Food, and cooking have always played a large part in my life.
My parents were chefs and when I was little I played in the blazing sun outside their kitchens in the industrial part of Nairobi. I would sit and watch Salome, the samosa lady as she sat for hours over the hot charcoal brazier outside patiently making samosa pastry before filling the little cones and forming them into triangles before deep frying them. We did not have crisps as such, no, we preferred the odd scraps of samosa pastry freshly fried, hot and salted (of course). Even now I am not keen on the thin crackly version of crisps that we have here in England.
Their company grew quickly and Mum and Dad were often busy with their outside catering business. It was natural for me and my brother to go with them, often waiting outside in the gardens of the clients or helping out in the kitchens at various functions. Parties, serving canapés on trays and helping out in kitchens was, as I say, a way of life.
At a very early age we were used to speaking with dignitaries and local celebrities. My favourite place to visit was the house of the Turkish ambassador as I went to school with his daughter and therefore had somebody to play with. My brothers favourite place was the British Embassy, where he would often engage someone in discussions about English history.
And so, to the title of this post. My foodie safari.
As we lived in a land full of wildlife it was also natural that at every opportunity we took a safari somewhere. Dad kept the safari trunk filled with all the food staples we’d need for a trip away. There was always a full camping gas cylinder ready and a jerry can or two of water. We’d stop of at the nearby shops for milk, bread, butter, sausages and the like. Our safaris were not the sort that took months to plan, but spontaneous affairs, we’d leap in the car of a Friday night and off we’d go with out tents, sleeping bags, binoculars and invariably friends as ours was a home full of kids. We’d drive for hours and then pitch our tent somewhere near water – often all we’d have to do was to tell a ranger at an outpost that we were entering a territory and give an estimate of when we’d pass back again – and we’d be away into the heart of Africa to sleep under canvas and to cook on a camp fire. If we did not return on the assigned day, the rangers would come and look for us. Ours was a life of adventure and firefood was the best. To eat a freshly made damper filled with butter and jam was divine. It was also one of the first things I learnt to cook. Part 4 – Building a cooking habit