Tag Archives: food

Eat, Pray, Love

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Some time, within the last year or the one before I wanted to write an article inspired by the movie Eat, Pray, Love. I actually started writing but it lacked flow so I abandoned it. Forgive my powers of recall because I cannot say for a fact what happened to that article because I looked for the title in my archives and could not find it. If I could hazard a guess I would say I modified it and posted it in a different form. Turns out sometimes when you throw some things out (read words) they come back to you. I don’t need to tell you that you should be careful what you throw out.  A friend of mine asked if I felt like I had a slow year and I responded it was a restful year. She thought I was being positive but later when I pondered over it, I realized 2013 for me was Eat, Pray, Love. Fortunately, it was different from the Elizabeth Gilbert version.

Pray tell, what do you do when you think you have met the one and he is missing something that you hold sacred? Answer: you pray. I met a man at the tail end of last year and I thought it was gift from God. I know I know who says such things out loud? Me! As I beheld my gift I wondered why God would give me a gift that I couldn’t grab hold of just yet? Well, simply because He is God and He can. I prayed that God would make it clear if He was giving me this gift and a verse came to mind every good and perfect gift comes from above. What was required of me was to trust God. I trusted that God would remove all doubts that the gift was mine and He confirmed it in his own time. Have you been given a gift and you’re not quite sure if it is yours or you’re not sure what to do with it? Pray! God hears you when you do and if it is within His will to give you something don’t fret He will make it happen. I also prayed for some things and I didn’t quite get them. In between feeling frustrated and sorry for myself, I prayed that God would help me to trust Him. One of those things was a big dream I had. I didn’t get my big dream but my eyes opened to the little dreams I had which came true. Some, I thought were too much to wish for but they came true nonetheless. I also had the privilege of praying for friends and seeing their dreams come true; which is a wonderful blessing. As I go into the New Year I am reminded I should dream and whatever dreams I have I should cast them upon God who loves me and knows which dreams are worth bringing forth and at the right time.

I dreamed a little dream that I would have a cooking club and experiment on exotic dishes I could not even dreamed of. It’s no secret I love to eat but only to the extent that I would like to live to eat another day. I shared my dream with a few friends and together we took some culinary journeys to exotic places. To clarify, exotic in this case means outside of your usual fare. What a fantastic thing it is to share your dream with like minded people. We still haven’t called it cooking club but amongst us we have created food memories to last us a while. From the first All Natural Red Velvet Cake which was alongside the Chocolate Fudge Cake that was unrivalled by anything we had ever had before, to the chicken pasta salad with the amazing Italian dressing, the spinach dip which we couldn’t get enough of, the pineapple carrot cake with the frosting that was too runny and yet so rich and delightful and the sweet and sour chicken that smelled glorious. The beauty of it all was though we used recipes created by others we made our own modifications to suit our different situations.  I learnt that creativity breeds creativity. When you take a step to create something new you might be scared especially if you’re not sure of the outcome but go ahead and create anyway because that’s the only way your creativity will grow. Another highlight for me was also sharing the food we cooked with the people I love. Moreover, I got to experience fine dining and cooking with someone I love which was a dream come true. Of course eating has its hazards when it is over done but my advice is as much as possible if you have to eat (not to live) to really live share it with people you love. Calories shared are calories halved.

What can I say of love? It’s a beautiful thing. It is not hard to see God’s penmanship in some love stories. Is God writing your love story or are you writing it yourself? The difference is God can see the end from the beginning while humans can only see so far. Even so when God is writing you have a role to play. What is your role you ask? Your role is to make choices. You choose to communicate in love when things are great and especially when they are not great, to give without expecting in return, to forgive when you have been hurt, to apologize when you’re on the wrong and even when you’re not sure if you were entirely on the wrong just to bring peace, to make sacrifices to preserve the values you hold dear, to accept the other person as they are and to bring a smile to the other person’s face by doing thoughtful things. You also choose to allow God into your relationship, to ask Him to refill your love supply when it is diminishing and to help you to take the high road, to be the bigger person and all those other things that are not pleasant for your ego but have good returns in the long run. In my year of love I have learnt that love is its own reward. I have also learnt love is more than a feeling, it is a commitment.

Finally, after we eat, pray and love let us not forget to laugh because life would be dull otherwise. I know it sounds simplistic but “a life lived without joy (mirth) is a life less well lived”. Feel free to quote me. Happy 2014 to you!

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About a Book

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A little while after I graduated from university I found that I was averse to reading. Ok, averse sounds a little extreme because I would still read newspapers and magazines whenever I got my hands on them. In fact I have cat like curiosity as far as written materials are concerned. I read matatu stickers, bumper stickers on vehicles, bill boards, labels on products especially food items like chocolate and biscuits. I even read labels on spices specifically to find out what kinds of foods go with those spices and last but not least I am one of those creepy people who reads a newspaper over my fellow matatu passenger’s shoulder. I have even read pages of books though I have trouble keeping pace with the original reader so I only get bits and pieces but it doesn’t matter because I got to read something any way. It’s therefore not surprising that I like to read books too. As much as I like to read books I feel that education, strike that, schooling ruined book reading for me. When I was in the university I had such a hunger for books that I would borrow as many as my library cards would allow but I would end up returning them almost unread. At the time I really wanted to read widely so my book choices were not restricted to course work. I would have a pile of books sitting on my desk and not enough time to read. The poor books had to compete with an active social life, my course work assignments, series and movies. Considering the number of books I returned to the library barely read I am surprised that I think I was averse to reading after finishing my studies. The reason I thought that was because I had such trouble finishing books whenever I picked them up, now I know the problem was there all along. There is a book I read for more than a year and I gave up and decided finishing it would not contribute to world peace. I am happy to report that, that has somewhat changed. However, I cannot say I now inhale books as quickly as someone would when they get out of a stuffy room but I can say I have revisited my love for reading for pleasure. Way before I graduated I chanced upon an article that highlighted a speech read to graduates of Havard University on things they never teach you in university which you should know. Reading for pleasure was one of those things that we should do. I could go on and on about reading books but then I would miss out on telling you about a most phenomenal book I read.

A little background information on how I got the book: I got my current job through a colleague whom I went to university with. When we were in university I knew he liked poetry but I had no idea he loved books. Turns out, he loves books like the Vatican loves the Pope. As far as my revisiting my love for reading for pleasure, he was the ghost of reading past to my Ebenezer Scrooge.  He got a copy of a book by Binyavanga Wanaina called “One Day I Will Write About This Place”. I had already read some titbits about it from a previous book he wrote which I read for a literature class I took, and I knew it was going to be interesting. I also read that the book was selected as an Oprah book club read and that is amazing. The feeling derived from knowing that the book would land on my laps was not as much kid in a candy store as it was; shoe addict receiving an anonymous cheque of a generous value in the mail and finding herself in a street with Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Salvatore Ferragamo and Jimmy Choo stores. When the book did get to me, I read it slowly and I would even go days without reading the book. This is not because the book was a cold egg. Far from it, it was so good I wanted to delay the inevitable: the end.

I will try not to give too much detail so as not to ruin the surprise and now you will have no choice but to get the book for yourself. The book was a memoir. He told stories of his childhood, a bit about his time in high school, his time in the university and how he ended up winning a Caine Orange Prize for writing. So unique is his style of writing that I found myself having conversations in my head (before you say aaiihh! who doesn’t have mental conversations with him/herself) and the sentences were structured the way he structured his. So short were his sentences that bits of his book read like poetry. The way he structures his sentences and the way I structure mine would make for an opposite attracts affair because my sentences tend to snake like a TGV minus the speed. He is also super talented at talking about nothing and for pages and pages and I have to say I came so short of exclaiming brilliant out loud on my many bus/matatu rides with my book companion.

Finally the reason the book won me over: the story of his life in university. I know I promised not to go into details but please forgive me if I do. At some point during his university tenure Binyavanga went through what I can only call a depression. His relationship with class was strained to say the least; he wanted a divorce. He came back to Kenya at a time when his mother’s family was going to have a reunion in Uganda and told his parents as much. When they came back from the reunion he stayed in Kenya for a bit and he felt a little better and decided to try and work things out with class. When he went back he said his new confidence lasted all but a week. He went back to hibernating in his room though unlike hibernating insects he had not gathered his food for the summer. At this point I desist from going into further details but all in all his story was appalling especially for those who stick to the straight and narrow as far as going to school and putting in some effort if for nothing else’ sake, to please your parents. A majority of Kenyan parents would have labelled their child useless. His own dad came close to calling him that but his mum shot him a warning look.

He had no idea what he wanted to do with his life but what he knew was he liked to read and he liked to write. He read all day and wrote most of the night. He shared his writing with other people he met online.  Then one day he got a letter informing him that his story had been short-listed for a Caine Orange Prize and he was invited to the House of Lords for dinner. One minute he was Turkana District, semi-arid and no water despite having a lake and the next minute he was Turkana district with oil deposits. The rest as they say is history. That was his story but what’s your story? Have you been dismissed? Do you constantly feel like you’re a disappointment and your life will not amount to much? Well, figure out what you like and direct your energies into it, whatever it is, work on it consistently and it will pay off. Now go get the book and let me know if it’s something to write home about.

Friends with food

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I think I am a little vain. I imagine some of my friends’ eye brows furrowing thinking, a little? I wouldn’t blame them. At the moment I am on a default exercise programme. Now before you get excited when I say exercise I mean the kind that will not break a sweat. Don’t get me wrong I love sweating as much as the next guy but if it involves pain I will take the easy way out. My exercise regimen consists of a 30 minute walk 5 days a week. I call it exercise because when I talk about it to people who spend a lot of time in vehicles and chairs, they are impressed, and maybe a little envious or not. If you’re on the other side of the divide and you break real sweat through adrenaline inducing work outs, a one hour walk might make your eyes roll but hey I don’t care. I will keep walking for vain reasons like I’m losing inches. If walking does what jogging could do and with less pain, I will take it. Anyway the vain part of the story stems from what I think about losing inches. What can I say I love it! Every time I talk about it I have this celebratory tone like woohoo! I’m getting smaller! On the surface I am thrilled about being smaller but deep down the thing that makes me do mental cart wheels is I can look at all food sinful, eat it even and enjoy it thoroughly, knowing full well it will not remain with me for too long. For someone who loves food this is like having your cake and eating it too. Allow me to digress a little but I reckon the expression would have made more sense had it been having your cake and ice cream. I keep asking, who is this who thinks cake is for having and not eating. In case you’re wondering; I am whetting your appetites so that I can talk about food.
My favourite scene in Eat, Pray, Love was when Elizabeth was in Italy having Pizza. She was tearing into a pizza and her new found Swedish friend couldn’t shake the guilt off having the indulgence of a large pizza because her pants were getting tighter. Then Elizabeth said we are going to enjoy the pizza and thereafter go shopping for bigger pants. I loved it! I mean really how liberating is it to realise that we shouldn’t be defined by external things. I once had some philosophical moments and I thought we should treat food like we would our friends. It made lots of sense back then, I don’t know if it does now especially since you can’t eat your friends. This is the part where I ask for your indulgence. In my epiphany I thought love your food but don’t depend on it entirely. Food is a necessity, it tastes good (depending) but it is not everything. Do not rely on food to sort out your emotional issues. Of course food especially sweets are amazingly comforting when you are in an emotional funk but the truth is if your friend figured out that you constantly go to them when you have emotional issues they would grow sick of you. Since they are your friend they might react by being passive aggressive and avoiding you. Food may take the passive aggressive route too but it won’t be so forgiving. It will hide in your body as fat and kill you slowly.
It has been said variety is the spice of life. Every once in a while you need to make new friends if only to broaden your experience of humanity. When your experience of humanity is broadened your adaptability increases. Adaptability is essential for survival. Same thing with food you need to try new foods every so often. Your palate needs to experience different tastes so as to make you more adaptable to the environment. You might end up in Cambodia where their food philosophy is apparently ‘bitter is better than sweet’. If someone gives you the opportunity to experience some novel food, you grab that opportunity. You never know where life will take you so even your stomach should be prepared for anything.
Then there are the toxic friends who do you no good. Yeah sure, they are loads of fun but they leave you high and dry. At this point I would like to clarify food includes drinks. You keep saying I don’t want to hang out with X anymore because every time I do trouble bites me in the behind. Foods or drinks with high sugar content fall into this category. When the sugar wears off, you crash and burn. At work there was a kid’s birthday party and there were marshmallows. My colleague and I helped ourselves to the marshmallows and I figured since I don’t enjoy the spongy super sugary taste of marshmallows as is, we should toast them. Personally I think in the case of marshmallows once you go dark you should never have to go back. So we went looking for some fire and well we decided to use the birthday candles to toast the marshmallows. Don’t ask! Anyway so we put our marshmallows on forks and we toasted them and you know the result, some ooey-gooey bundle of goodness. We were so pleased with our genius that we high-fived each other when we were bragging to our colleagues about our treat. Besides the marshmallows we had earlier had some cake with jam spread on it so you can imagine sugar on sugar. At first I was totally high! I mean you should have seen me super charged past 3p.m. Normally, the average person wishes the clock was a horse so you could kick it so it goes faster but then time decides to be a donkey at that time. Later on I was heading to town for a meeting and I ran into traffic and by the time I got out of the matatu I was so mad. I had to calm myself down throughout the entire 15 minute walk to the venue. In spite of my best efforts to calm down I was still the crankiest person at that meeting. Newton wasn’t kidding, what comes up must come down. I won’t even get started on alcohol because everybody knows first high then dry and literally because you need to hydrate afterwards. Toxic friends will drain you so the best thing is to avoid them same goes for food. Toxic food and drink should be avoided. Unfortunately some of us are weaker than others and we can’t entirely avoid these things, one word: moderation.
I always say moderation is key (if you haven’t heard me say it, I’ve said it to myself). There is a programme airing on a local TV station called Slim Possible that follows some women’s weight loss journeys. I know some people are having a blast being mean and criticizing them and I will admit my constant thought is “why let the weight get so out of control only to suffer later?” Honestly I feel sad that someone should have to repent for having a piece of cake during the week. Once, a friend blogged about his culinary creation and posted it on face book and the description was mouth watering to say the least. The funny thing is it sparked a debate on calories and death by heart attack and I contributed to the piece saying food is not the problem, we are. We lack control, we ignore all the signals our bodies send to us telling us to stop and then we blame it on innocent bacon. I mean bacon doesn’t call to you saying come and eat me and even if your mind is playing tricks on you and bacon is beckoning, shake your head, say no and live to enjoy bacon another day. Food is to be enjoyed but if you take advantage of food there are repercussions. Go on enjoy some food with friends today!

Inspirational Love

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This past week there has been a lot of talk about love because of Valentine’s Day. This is how you know how hallowed the day is when I tried to type it in with a small “d” the computer gave me the green grammatical error line, oops sorry Microsoft word. Historically Valentine’s Day has been termed a day of lovers but it is a day of business people too. Next to Christmas nothing puts a smile on business people’s faces quite like Valentine’s. Heck you don’t even need to be a business person; you just need to be enterprising. Since last Tuesday the number of flower and gift vendors has reduced like the liquid in 24 hour lamb. The good thing is the vendors who are left are in it for real love. These are the guys who make life tasty like the liquid left after 24 hour lamb; it is a delightful sauce that makes waiting 24 hours for a meal worth it (I’m not sure many people would agree with this but well…). The point I was trying to make (using all my thousands of words that I need to use in a day) is love should be an everyday thing. It should be expressed as often as there are breaths. A random gift or bouquet of roses or a single stem, a sweet card and a kind word does not require occasion.

The subject of love is fodder for books, music, cinema, TV, conversation in bars, coffee shops, salons and living rooms. I don’t know about you but mi thinks most of these conversations are based on trying to understand what this thing called love is. I cannot say I understand it either but I have a little insight on the kind of love I would like: the inspirational kind. Oh so many years ago there was a movie called The Best Man. The sound track of the movie was called “Best man”. It was sung by Ginuwine, Tyrese, R.L and Case. I must admit I couldn’t remember who sang the song until I googled it but when the song was fresh I would have been weak in the knees if I ever ran into any of these guys (thank God for time and distance). In the song the persona talks of this girl who changes his life for the better. That he was a boy when he met her and he has grown to become a men because of her influence and she has helped him be the best man he can be. I thought the song was golden I mean it’s really sweet that she influenced him for the better. I realized that love should be at the least inspiring many years ago and now I am more convinced of it.

A few weeks ago there was a discussion amongst my youth fellowship on sex and love was invited into the conversation. One guy said the most awe inspiring thing that love means adding value. It means you take a person who was ok when you met them and you love them into a higher level. Sounds good doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be in love right about now? Have you thought about the people you have ever related with are they so much the better because they encountered you? Let’s start small let’s go to your family. Can your family members say that your good qualities have rubbed off on them? Or did they pick up most of their bad habits from you? Are you adding value to their lives or are you taking them down a notch or ten? So many questions right. Let me let all of us off the hook and stop asking.

Relationships are a two way street. Whatever goes down between two people who are in any kind of relationship is the responsibility of each of the party involved. I would like to hope that you are inspiring the people you relate with but they also have to decide to be inspired. A few months ago I was hanging around this guy who was really interesting and I liked him. I realised that we had something in common a passion for food. Around that time I kept telling myself I was waiting for some perfect opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. When we had a conversation about food and he mentioned he likes to experiment in the kitchen and he actually does, I thought to myself why not me? I haven’t seen the guy in ages but the desire to experiment in the kitchen has stayed with me. I have since cooked for a few friends and family and it was amazing! I want to do this for the rest of my life. People may walk in and out of your life but what you keep with you from these encounters is entirely up to you. Sometimes we get hurt but even when we have been hurt there was some good in that relationship. What was it? Can you figure it out and take it and run with it. The truth is if you choose to hold on to the hurt and the pain then you lost and when you lose so many times you are in danger of feeling like a loser. On the other hand if you can take something that will benefit you in a future relationship then you are so much the better. What can you take you ask? Where do I begin? How about you take those characteristics you found admirable in the person and practice them. Like your ex was a good time keeper you can learn to keep time. I know it sounds silly but maybe your new ability to keep timing will elevate your status and you never know who is watching. Maybe your dad was a lousy husband to your mother but he taught you to be philanthropic, take it and run with it. Your ex was a go getter, borrow a leaf or better yet get that leaf! This person has a great relationship with God, start asking God what you can do to have an awesome relationship like that with Him if not better.  At the end of the day, if you are in any relationship and you choose to inspire the other person and be inspired by the other person then no matter what happens everybody is a winner. Last I checked winning is cool!