John 6:56 “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”
It is the beginning of the Christian Holy Week. The week before celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament on Easter this Sunday. The tradition is during this week we must not eat any animal derivate products, consume alcohol or cigarettes or any opiates. It is a week in which people are able to clean and improve their spirit, their believes and soul. In Kenya one of my first days when I started working with the children from the orphanage I did something that I usually don’t – to cook for all of them. My voluntary duties abroad or in my country, are to help children with their studies, but as I am always saying to my friends and to the people that follow me and my blog – when you apply for such an experience you must be mentally ready to do everything – in my case I started cooking and also feeding some of the little kids.
In the children’s home there was a variety of age groups and I was truly fascinated how they are all helping each other with their everyday activities. It was a real inspiration and pleasure to see how 12-13 years old kids are mature enough and want to help their little “brothers” and “sisters”. To take care of them-isn’t it that beautiful. This situation, like many other I have been trough in my life, reminds me of the fact that those who don’t have much are often more dedicated and give the others. I know is tough living without family, living in actual poverty, but I really do believe that is more important not what befell us, but how we react on it. And those kids, especially the older ones, were handling the situation amazingly well for their age. It an excitement to be able to learn a piece of the Kenyan culture trough their national meals. Silas – my host in Bungoma, as I already mentioned in my previous article, was volunteering with me in the children’s home. So that day we were both faced with the task to help with the preparation of the lunch food for the kids. I was surprised because there was a big group of staff of adults assisting the orphanage but mainly the kids were preparing everything. On one hand this had a real strong appeal, because kids happen to be more mature and responsible but on the other I think… they are children after all. I don’t mean that this should be an excuse to spoil them, but I think the assistants in the children’s home could have been more involved in their job and not leaving it for the kids to do it. In my opinion every child – whether with parents or not, deserves a childhood. A real one. Or in other words – more careless one. So we all together made Ugali which is their specialty and is a meal of maize flour (cornmeal) cooked with water to porridge.
It is the most common staple starch featured in the local cuisines of the eastern African Great Lakes region and Southern Africa. Most Kenyan families eat it almost everyday for lunch or sapa (Kiswahili for dinner) and mix it with vegetables, herbs or fish, meat, sometimes even eggs. It is easy to prepare, because you need only a water and maize flour, but also need a lot of effort while doing it, because the mixture should be stirring in continuation, until it thickens. One of the next days we did also another type of “bread” called “chapatti” (I loved it) which is very tasteful but as Silas explained me in the African families they make it rarer than Uguali.
He said that it is not because they don’t like it, but because it costs more to be prepared, telling me that it takes more products for the mixture as salt and oil. It was strange and a big cultural difference with my own country and also Italy where I currently live, because we usually use a lot of cheese, milk and eggs even while preparing bread. I never thought the bread can be considered as more expensive simply because there is a salt and oil in it. That made me believe that no matter if we are living somehow not very excessively or we actually cannot afford it even though we wish to, there are many people that satisfy their needs with a lot less. And they are doing it pretty well.
So I enjoyed pretty much helping with the preparation of the meals and after that watching the kids, sharing their food and all together eating and being pleased with their plates no matter what is inside of it. So this week, the week that for some people is Holy, because of Easter, and even for those that it is not, I ask you to enjoy your food. No matter if you have a little or a lot a lot a lot. Think about it, stay focused on what you have and not on what you miss having. Because this week, religious or not, is created to remind us that we are fortunate if we have food in our plates. And we are even more fortunate if we have somebody to share this food with. Because it is better to eat half of a meal in company, than eat a whole meal alone, with no one to share it with, don’t you agree? Everything more is Gluttony. Love you, my readers. Enjoy your meal.