Global Midwifery

Becoming Kenyan

Kenyan women and American women approach meal times quite differently. To the point the cook at the retreat center has asked me why I don’t like the food. Don’t like the food!  But I eat everything, including the ongali.  For those who listened to our stories from DRC, you may remember our first tastes of fufu. Fufu is a paste made from cassava flour and boiled water. We tried, we couldn’t eat it. Ongali is the Kenyan version made with cornmeal.  As an American, I will say it is much more palatable. It is similar to polenta or grits.  The problem is that American women eat only a little, while Kenyan women heap their plates and enjoy every bite.

I’ve actually started approaching tea time like a Kenyan. Mangazi, or beigent if you prefer the French term, are fabulous little fried sweet dough. I confess, I ate six of them yesterday, and pouted when today’s tea was served with rolls instead of mangzi. Perhaps tomorrow the cooks will prepare them again.


Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)