For the cleaning lady who wakes me up at 430a with the sound of water splashing in between the bird songs that are cajoling and urging the sun to rise. I'm agitated because I want to sleep. But she is teaching me reverence. Respect for her commitment to be up at the crack of dawn working diligently. It pulls me out of slumber. The rhythm of her washing, with the chorus of birds and a waking Nairobi, becomes the cadence of my mantra. Let today's meditation begin.
We’ll walk barefoot on the soil of farms that feel like Ashrams. The men and women workers, like monks, and we’ll stroll through the mandalas of their patience and diligence and Nature's response to it. Surely this is the true play, the true art. Where we learn nature through work and service. Their toil gives way to her expression and she flourishes. Offering abundance in exchange. I'm in love, it's obvious. Completely open and in awe.
I wish I could write reviews of restaurants or a simple blog piece about a farm I’ve seen. But even in this short span of time Nairobi has given me so much I can't deny her my truest expression.
Jet Lag has been brutal. The nights however, give me the opportunity to reflect on the day’s fullness.
Nairobi has been generous in her offerings of comfort and hospitality. Seldom have we traveled and it not felt like we were in the presence of the familiar. We’ve eaten vegan takeout from local restaurants, delivered to the house ready to order, and customized to fit our palette and preference. Dined at eateries that offer vegetarian fare that can be changed to accommodate our vegan diet.
Nairobi is an international hub and whereas Kenya’s manifold homegrown cultures are prevalent, a growing convergence of cultures and tastes have arrived. I think that where the variety of flavors, infusions of culture and taste can and will be highlighted the best is through the work of independent food entrepreneurs. Take for instance Kathy’s Kitchen, owned by Karen Lucas, it specializes in pies and vegetarian/vegan fare. Not only does she offer home delivery, she also puts on a plant based brunch series, pop-up style called Brunch for Dinner, with a coursed meal and wine pairing.
Nairobi has the potential to grow and is growing on the food scene with food bloggers, private chefs and those who have embraced the plant based lifestyle and fuse it together not only as a cuisine but as a conversation piece. What are you eating? Where did you get it? Sometimes, how did you get it?
When looking for traditional vegan foods or cuisines I’ve often find that if you are eating locally, most often, it's vegan by Nature. However given the stigma associated with a plant based diet as “poor” cuisine, you find that there is a growing trend of diet based diseases similar to the West. Meat is status. A staple of the wealthy and the middle class. If there is a vegetable, generally it's a starch or grain, the product of industrial farming excess, given to the people to consume. With speaking with the Horticulturist and Researcher Dr. Mary Aboutska, the conversation centered around the issue of malnutrition, rather than food security, as it’s plain to see Kenya is abundant. As can be noted in many countries worldwide, growing health and environmental concerns are co-related less to access and more to people not being knowledgeable in how to eat in a way that ensures adequate nutrition.
The journey is just beginning and more than anything I'm looking forward to learning. Discovering the different ways Kenyans are not only embracing the Vegan lifestyle, but how its connected and carries over into art, culture, health, wellness and farming in this agricultural dominant country. Exploring Vegan Kenya is on....
My Kitchen Sounds Like: "Mi Alright" by Kabaka Pyramid and Chronixx