by Otieno Lynn

Hosting golden rule number 1…don’t try out a new recipe when you’re expecting guests.
There’s this one time I had some friends coming over for a get together meeting. I woke up pretty early and started quarreling with the dishes and the sufurias in good spirit…it was lit and by around midday everything was ready.
Let me tell you a little story: My only sister got married last year and if you come from the Luo community or if you are married to a Luo then you will agree with me that traditional Luo marriage ceremonies are a big feat. Neighbors will ask“To chuoreno nobiro gi mtokni adi?”“How many cars did that husband of hers come with?”
We actually just like to celebrate events with food.It is not a celebration if there’s no food.Once a while you’ll hear someone complaining;“Ne wadhi e liel no to waayo gi dhowa” Loosely translated “We went to
that funeral and left with our mouths” I once overheard a woman calling out at another from across the road,
“Neee tim piyo ring liel borumo nwa.”
“Look, please hurry we’ll miss the funeral meat”
So yes, even in funerals, the spirit of celebration remains. My folks actually judge the greatness of a send off ceremony by the number of cars that occasion the ceremony (and their models) and by the quantity and quality of food that is served. More accurately by the number of cows that are slaughtered.
Back to my story…on the material day of my sister’s traditional wedding, we woke up early, made sure every corner of the house and the compound was neat and then we got to cooking, the main agenda of the day.In case you’re planning on marrying a woman from the lakeside, let me let you in into a little fun fact.There are people who will accompany you to the girl’s home purposely to eat. Just that. Eat.
So we cooked and cooked and cooked all sorts of delicious dishes which everyone present enjoyed and downed with good old soda.You’d be very justified if you caught feelings in Luoland for missing a bottle of soda.
Fast forward to the following day which was on a Monday. We’re seated outside having brunch..most of which was leftovers from the previous evening. See, I don’t know if this is just a problem with me or there’s anyone out there I share this disability with.I call it a disability because life is too short not to do the things you love. And seventy five percent of the time all I want to do is eat.If I was randomly asked by a stranger about what I enjoy doing most, eating would top the list.It is a fact that is not contested. But then, the problem is once I spend a lot of time preparing food, when it’s time to eat I lose my appetite. Especially when when it comes to chapatis.So on the previous day while everyone else was eating I was running up and down trying to ensure that everything is perfect for the occasion. Allow me to digress :
I traveled up country on Saturday and earlier that Sunday morning I remember my mum asking another cousin of mine and I, “Kokeu muwicho malich go be biro tedo ma luok sende?”“Will those painted nails cook and clean utensils?”
I will not mention that we cooked almost four packets of chapat and attempted to bake a cake that awfully backfired because we’d forgotten to put in some baking powder. So all I can remember is that after all the cooking and moving up and down I had a bite of a piece of chicken and ugali.Brunch was going to be payback time.
Back to our brunch, we’re all seated in a tent that had been pitched outside the house ; my aunts, cousins, mum, brothers…It’s a full house.There is a lot of food to go on but amidst everything my attention is drawn to some sweet looking wet fried beefy beef . I decide to give it a try and oh my….It tasted different. There was a bit of sourness (not sure if this is the right word) that is not kawaida but I know it was good.If you are a food lover then you know the feeling you get when something is so yummy it seduces your taste buds.
So I ask my mum how it was done and she refers me to my little brother (insert grin and popping eyes)So I’m like huh?I know my bro is a good cook but this was too good.He makes some of the best chapatis by the way.I’m not ringing(siringi )I’m just saying.No, I think I’m ringing. Dear ladies, your men will not tell you this, but they secretly added ‘Ability to cook soft round chapatis” to the list of qualifications for wiving you. If he hasn’t asked you just know that someone somewhere is making them soft chapat (and prolly sitting on them)
I bet my mum would disown you if you were her child and you didn’t know how to cook….LOL (Pun intended)
So at that point I give my little bro a wry smile and before I can pop the question he interjects:
“Just do your wet-fried beef the kawaida way then instead of letting it simmer with water, add yoghurt”
“That’s easy” I tell myself.
Fast forward to the day when I was hosting these friends of mine for lunch, beef was amongst the key dishes I planned to prepare.I was all psyched up to try my brother’s magical recipe, and I was looking forward to answering a whole ton of questions regarding my dish. On the eve of the get together as is the norm for me, I bought all the ingredients I’d need to ensure that I had everything ready,woke up early the following day and got to cooking.
All was going well….Every other dish was ready, the chicken in my cooking pieces pot were having a spa treatment, my wet fried beef looking all savoury and my chapos looking like manna.The only step left was for me to add in the yogurt.
Now, I had sent someone to buy the yoghurt but I never specified the flavour I needed. So he got me vanilla because he knows that it’s my favorite (He totally thought I wanted to eat it.)By the way, do we eat Yorghurt or drink yoghurt ? I have always drank yorgurt but recently someone tried challenging my nursery school teacher’s ability to teach English. I still remember my nursery school teacher and the way she used to flog us with flip flops…On occasions when she was extremely agitated she’d hurl a flip flop at whoever it was making her teaching career difficult.Mmhhh.The woes of being a village girl.
Any-who, I opened the can and poured a about a quarter cup of the yogurt into the sufuria containing the beef while stirring with a curious face.A few stirs later, the devil started whispering things into my ear.Bad things…very bad things.
Add more…I added
Add more…I totally generously, shamelessly added.
This went on and on and by the time I was done adding, the yoghurt can was empty and that is the time it actually hit me that I should have called my brother and asked for clarification on quantities. It tasted more of mala than meat and instead of a rich brown color I got a sad looking creamish thing.
What to do? We gathered together as everything that makes up Lynn and had a brief meeting that led to us making a decision on two things
Thing one: We were not going to throw away one and a half kilograms of beef.
Thing two: We were not going to tell the guests shit about what happened with the recipe.The heck we were not going to tell them what that was called….yogurt beef?Beef yoghurt? Beef sprinkled with yoghurt? Beef in yoghurt?I tried to coin one of those names expensive restaurants use to justify overcharging you but failed miserably.
Long story short, despite all that drama going on in the sufuria, I neatly and shamelessly served the beef and set it on the table alongside the other dishes.The bowl came back empty….
Now I cannot share with you what happened because I also don’t know.
Enjoy the rest of your week folks!

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