By Silas Nyanchwani
I will not even mince my words here: Mukimo is the worst Kenyan food.
It does not matter how many Kikuyu friends I have. It doesnâ€™t matter if they have the presidency. It doesnâ€™t matter if they hold key positions in the government, military and everywhere where the politically inclined tend to pick bones with them. I donâ€™t care the stereotypes about their men and women.
For me, my beef with Kikuyus will always be about their lazy approach to preparing food. Kikuyu are some of the laziest, least creative people when it comes to food matters. Some of their other lazy inventions include tumbukiza: Simply you cut 2 kilograms of beef steak, deep it in salted water and let it boil, boil,boil, booooooooil. At some point bring a 2 kilogram cabbage or 20 leaves of uncut spinach and throw in. Serve while hotâ€¦
This is a joke. Not a culinary delight. But Kikuyus are some of the poor eaters I know. I have never met a Kikuyu who sat to enjoy and appreciate a meal. Savour the peculiar tastes of each and every starch and vegetable serving on the table. Understand the epicurean peculiarities of spices. Get the crispness of beer. Let their tongues dance to the exciting delights of natural fresh juice. For some strange reasons, these guys are constantly on the move. This explains their cavalier attitude towards things that really matter in life. Like food and family.
Kikuyus are possibly the more â€˜civilizedâ€™ of Kenyans, given their earlier exposure to the colonialists. They donâ€™t have many cultural inhibitions save for ruracio which seems to be widely respected and some really expensive weddings. It was a geographical accident that they be proximate to the capital. By that advantage, they at least ought to have produced the national delicacy.
Countries without a national delicacy are often very divided. And it is the Kikuyuâ€™s fault for failing to raise to the occasion when it comes to food. When your most creative meal is mukimo, we are trouble. To make matters worse, they never learned to prepare ugali (which is the acknowledged national starch). No sane man from Western Kenya will let their Kikuyu wife or girlfriends touch the cooking stick. When it comes to ugali, they do such a terrible job, they stop short of mashing the potatoes into the simmering maize flour porridge in course to be made ugali.
And now the mukimo. When was the last time you heard someone say, â€˜this Mukimo is niiiiceâ€™. Never ever. I can imagine who came up with mukimo. Three theories. These folks have always been entrepreneurs and commercial farmers, hence they never had time to start boiling the potatoes separately, the corn separately and also preparing the green vegetables or weeds they colour the mukimo with independently. So the council of Kikuyu women decided that just put all those things in one pot, let them boil together. Serve them when lukewarm.
Theory number 2. The Agikuyu are classified as the only matriarchy in Africa. As far as I know. So since the women ruled, they had no business of enticing their men with food. I can imagine Wangu wa Makeri (was that her name) telling the women to focus on more important things in life. Like whipping the bad bottoms of men for fun. So, men never would tell what bad food was from good food. Importantly, they didnâ€™t care since they were plotting for the fall of womanhood. Remember that stroke of genius where they impregnated all the women simultaneously and made them weak and essentially overthrew them? How their timing defied biology is a story for another day.
Theory number three. During Mau Mau, the Kikuyus had no time for niceties and pleasantries of preparing food with the all the luxury in the world. They cooked everything hurriedly before the Brits disrupted their daily routine. For that we are thankful. But what have they done to boost their culinary skills 51 years down the line?
Simple, they discovered carrots, irish potatoes, peas, cabbages and decided that is what they will feed their men and all the people who throng their restaurants. And then, to make the matters worse: They decided that Githeri is a delicacy and essentially ruined our high school lives. NKT. Imagine if Martian arrived on earth and asked, â€˜how do you prepare githeri?â€™ and you answered,
â€œJust take beans and corn and boil them.â€ I swear that is the simplest recipe in the universe. Now imagine the panache with which women at the coast prepare their beans even to the point of putting coconut oil in it. Imagine the spices that transform a simple dinner into a heavenly pleasure.
The Luhyias specialized in the chicken stuff. Luos know a thousand edible fish and a hundred ways of preparing them, even though omena is culinary insult. We the Kisiis, if you didnâ€™t know invented ugali, before the Luos copied from us and passed it to the Luhyias who perfected the art. For Kalenjins, they make Mursik through an art passed down generations and is the secret to their success in athletics.
What about Kikuyus. Their food is devoid of any heritage. Any cultural teachings. Nothing at all. Mukimo is tasteless, you will need salt and spiced soup for you to make head or tail of what eating. It is simply mashed potatoes mixed with githeri and a food colour made from some weeds. And their brand of beans, njahi, tastes like warmed loam soil. Bad, bad, badâ€¦
For their cavalier attitude towards food, Kikuyus should be banned from eating pizza or any food that requires any imagination towards making it.
What most people donâ€™t know is that the reason why marriages between men from Western Kenya and Kikuyus donâ€™t work is less political, more culinary: And I will say it here without fear or favour: for men from Western Kenya, if there isnâ€™t ugali on the table, there is no lunch or supper there, period. He may lie to you that he doesnâ€™t really mind, but mostly it is because you are light-skinned (hence canâ€™t put you through so much trouble). Or, you are too pretty, he doesnâ€™t want to offend you.
When all said and done, we did not endure all those forests and wild animals from Cameroon to come and eat githeri and mukimo. Kikuyus owe us an apology and their women should be sent to West Kenyans on an exchange programme and be taught how to prepare proper ugali, nice vegetables and a protein dish. While at it, be taught that potatoes need not be a constant on every meal. And no Shiro, a man cannot sleep on a paperful of chips!
There are other methods of preparing dishes, besides boiling. Try frying. Smoking. Roasting. .
This opinion piece was published HERE