A woman should know how to cook.
I will start with a disclaimer: I am not a great cook; but I am a learning, growing one. I love good food. And because of that I know I will one day be a great cook. I have to keep improving my game.
I haven’t always been of this opinion that a woman should know how to cook because for the longest time I did not know how to make good or interesting meals. My food was blah blah at best when I had the courage to make it. I don’t remember anyone teaching me how to cook save for pilau that my mum loved to make – but which I have had to perfect via online tutorials. So most of my culinary skills were by trial and error; lots of errors.
But after coming from the sort of village where ugali cabbage with potatoes is a delicacy and after eating bad boarding school food for half of my life (that still haunts my dreams), you can understand why I would never want to taste bad food for another day of my life if I can help it.
So slowly I got the confidence to start trying different foods for myself, no matter how awful it turned out. My son is the next best guinea pig 🙂
Every subsequent meal became better. I still self teach a lot of meals by trial and error but Food Channel, recipe websites and Facebook pages [such as Let Us Cook Kenyan Meals) as well as food bloggers like Kaluhi’s Kitchen have become my salvation in that department.
If you are a woman, you need to know how to cook well. If you plan to “keep” a home, learn to cook. When I think of a home I think of a warm place with lots of laughter, tea in the thermos and a pot of food cooking somewhere. Home is where the food is.
If you love good food, you need to know how to cook well. If you marry a man who loves his food you need to know how to cook. More even so, if you marry a man who doesn’t eat, you need to know how to whip up heaven’s delights in the kitchen to get him to go beyond thinking a cup of tea is dinner.
If you are ever going to have children, you need to know how to make good food to make them stop camping at the neighbours for meals because they are dreading what will be served at home. And if you plan to practice is hospitality, make good food; not all your guests will give you a day’s notice to allow you to hire a chef.
Oh, and stop the excuses of oh, he can’t fix a bulb, oh he cannot fix the broken seat… just learn to make a few meals.
I am never embarrassed to ask for a recipe whenever I see or taste something great. I am never afraid of making mistakes in the kitchen even though my hubs is not the most forgiving of awful food. What’s important is I learn what works or what doesn’t and what can be done differently.
Cooking makes me feel terrifically feminine. Being able to make a good meal gives me self confidence. Filling up my guests makes me happy. And seeing hubs enjoy a meal does it for me any day.
At the basic minimum, every Kenyan woman should be able to make:
French toast (Toast mayai)
Or at least to toast bread. Or fry and egg. Something for breakfast.
There shall come a time in your life when you will be needed to make pancakes. Learn at least one recipe. It can save your life or a relationship.
Beef stew (or chicken or fish)
Every woman needs a signature stew that will forever remind her children of home. Make it as unique or as general as you. Perfect it. It can be eaten with ugali or rice or mashed potatoes or the chapatis you bought across the road.
This is the meal you whip up from the remains from your fridge and pantry- it can be pilau njeri, vegetable stew, spaghetti mathogothanio… whatever. You should be able to walk into a broke kitchen and make a meal out of mismatched ingredients like a bunch of broccoli, two gizzards, two potatoes and a cup of rice.
Real Kenyan tea
Anything with tea bags doesn’t count.
Without the lumps. Because you will have a sick boyfriend or husband or mother whose stomach can only stand thin uji, because you will be lactating and need milk, because you have babies.
You can’t brag you know how to cook if you can’t make chapatis that make all the bachelors in your circle want to move into your house.
If you can’t make any rice cook well, invest in very good rice. I can swear by Sunrice orange pack and Ranee maroon pack.
A nice to have skill once you have kids.
Yes you are Kenyan so learn to make ugali. Keke! It’s fast, easy and a go-to meal when you need a full stomach and can be eaten with almost anything, including chai and turungi (strong tea).
A legume stew
A fried veg
It could be sukuma, cabbage, stir fry… whatever. Perfect something that gives you plate balance and helps digestion.
Finally depending on whom you date or marry and the tastes of your children, you will have to learn certain meals. My son loves pilau and chipo so I have had to learn to make them. Some of your home mates will demand creamed ndengu or mukimo or enchisagasaga, coconut beans and omena. Learn, grow.