The Authentically Kenyan “Canadian Thanksgiving” and “German Oktoberfest”

So toward the end of September, I began to not only miss family, friends, places, activities, but also food. My body was telling me that I am supposed to be in my favourite season (of beautiful boots and coats!) with the leaves changing colours, families gathering for autumn activities, and people wearing extra layers because it is getting chilly out (well that part I’m not missing, it’s plenty cold enough here in Nairobi). I had written an e-mail home with my wish-list for the “Welcome Home Meal” we always have when someone comes home from an extended stay away. It had autumn classics like pumpkin pie, squash and sweet potato soup. There were also other things such as yogurt and ice cream which are widely available here but never for the lactose intolerant. Yogurt is EVERYWHERE here. I think it’s the large Indian population that buys so much of it. I was able to find soya milk and camel milk (ever seen the Amazing Race episode where they had to milk a camel?), but no yogurt, so it just teases me all the time. I really hope gelato and dairy-free ice cream will be waiting in the freezer. Other meals that made it onto the list was Mom’s chicken noodle soup (that fact that I had been getting over the flu probably helped this one), Mom’s pasta dish of broccoli, sun-dried tomato and olives (I know I am not eating enough vegetables here b/c I’m particular about how they are cooked, for health reasons, but I’ll have to make a bigger effort.) and one of Andrew’s tuna melts. Oh yes, and if my grandmother were to cook, I’d ask for the little-bit-spicy vegetable noodle soup.

To be completely honest though, I have been about to find quite a few things here that I love! I have found all the fennel and anise flavoured things you can imagine, and even know a place with a superb selection of olives and capers. Ahhhh… perfect. Sometimes it’s great even just to look at.

What is the BEST PART OF ALL OF THIS?

The Canadians that I work with invited me to their Thanksgiving! Okay, so it was a Canadian thanksgiving on a Saturday in Kenya, and there were more people from New Zealand than Canada, (not to mention an American, South African, Norwegian and Swede) so things were a little unconventional but perfect nonetheless. We passed around the spuds, (not potatoes) and had some Abba playing in the background and one point, talked development and East African tourism. All in all, it was a fabulous time and I even had pumpkin pie (with whipped cream), turkey stuffing and sweet potatoes! Just like I had been dreaming of!  Or at least, as close as I will get.  Not to mention the oversized 10.6 turkey that got mixed up and sent to the 12 of us! Need I say, I was happy?

It seemed this had been the weekend of cultural events because the Friday before my Kenyan-New Zealand-Canadian Thanksgiving, it was Oktoberfest, and when you are living at a German Boarding House, with many Germans, apparently you attend. So off we had gone, the Germans, Canadians, Swedes, Belgians, and a Sri Lankan, to the Kenyan version of Oktoberfest put on by the German Embassy. There was traditional Bavarian music (which was so much fun), dancing, live musicians, food (including salted pretzels!), beer, and various competitions for giveaways. I didn’t win anything, but the beer mug we were given has become quite handy for making Mr. Noodles in the evening (I did tell you I can get everything here, right?).

So these weeks have been good. On top of the craziness of work, too few hours in a day, World Habitat Day, and the conference my branch held which was quite a success and very interesting (where I met Michael Cohen – really cool), my week of running around like a chicken with my head cut off ended with someone telling me I looked regal and another person saying I astounded them with my insight. Not to toot my own horn, but I will be honest, it was nice to hear after a week of racing the clock and nearly drowning in deadlines.

This Thursday is a holiday, so I have been fortunate enough to be able to take Friday off and I am going to the coast (the safe areas, of course).  I recently heard some locations are experiencing flooding from the rain, but hey, maybe I’ll respond to the flooding in my professional capacity and be offered my next job. You never know.

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