Thanksgiving in Mombasa!

Coming Together

That Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my friend Lindsey and I finalize the menu you saw above, and head off to Nakumatt with the help of Paul. Now, you may ask, why are we always doing this in groups, like a bunch of high schoolers going to the bathroom or something. Here are my reasons:

  • I don’t know how to cook really, and neither do any of my friends.
  • Even at the Western-style, Wal-Mart-esque Nakumatt, not everything you need might be there so you will need to get creative and when getting creative, two heads are better than one.
  • Traveling after dark is not preferable, and the traffic is terrible on north coast, so many hands make light, and therefore quick, work.
  • It’s way more fun!

For the most part, everything went off without a hitch, except for some confusion over bread crumbs, bread cubes, breading crumbs, and oh jeez, who even cares. Of course, if you look at the third point above, the jam was so bad that we left at about 5:30pm, and did not get home until 8:00pm. The total distance is about 20 km, plus the ferry ride. But even with the ferry, that is still ridiculous. There are two places in this entire country that have traffic: everywhere in Nairobi, and the main artery through Mombasa. What are the odds I would regularly be using one of these?!

On Thursday, Paul comes over, Jeff arrives, and John comes in from Voi and so begins the cooking fiesta. The chicken was a little scary at first, having tried the pressure cooker but still not being overly confident in its use. We almost forgot to make the corn. The cornbread was baked by someone who has never eaten cornbread before (but she did a great job), and nobody believed me when I told them how delicious the trifle would be. I don’t know if it was technically a trifle, but I don’t care. It layered like this: cake, vanilla pudding, crushed cookies, whipped cream, mangoes and banana slices, more cake, strawberry pudding, more cookies, whipped cream and more bananas and mangoes. Overall, a win.

We spent about three and a half hours peeling, chopping, pressure cooking, experimenting, spicing, baking. We sang we joked, we sweat. We had to emergency toast a loaf of bread when we realized that even after all our pondering about the bread crumbs, we still bought the wrong thing. Paul was our toast man. He toasted that bread like a pro.

When all was said and done, we sat down, and gave thanks. We were thankful for friends and good times and good meals. We were thankful for having made it through a year in Kenya. We were thankful for being able to share this holiday with our Kenyan friends, who though notorious for being able to finish any meal placed in front of them, were beaten by a good old American Thanksgiving feast. The food was bountiful, the drink and cheer aplenty, the friendship warm and fuzzy like it should always be. And in the end, people went to sleep happy, collapsing in food comas on their beds, while I have a pot of leftovers and trifle sitting in my fridge.

A grand Thanksgiving if ever there was one!

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