Does anyone remember a song that was a big hit a few years back, from a couple of young chaps by the name Circular and Joe (or something similar)? It was something about meat and how butcheries these days have a really wide variety of cuts, and all you really need is a paper bag to carry it out with.
Other than the fact that I thought the two did not appreciate the importance of money in transactions like these, I thought the song was pretty good. After all what is the harm in promoting the meat industry in such a noble way? But I guess the enemies of the small trader were again at work and the song got a lot of flak from very many quarters.
I just have to say this – what is wrong with people?? A singer goes out of his way to talk about the harsh times in the carpentry business and how he no longer has anything to hammer, and people go crazy. Some other chap highlights the plight of the unemployed and how when his girlfriend calls he is reduced to telling her that he can’t leave the ‘keja’ so she will have to go there. Again, there is a hullabaloo. Kwani you do not want people to know the real state of the economy for the little people?? Atwoli needs to chunguza these enemies of development chap chap!
Anyway, rant over, back to my story. I was reminded of this song some time back when I spent a good portion of the weekend acting like that mama in the advert and asking “Meaty? Meaty? Where is the meat?’ No, there was no meat shortage in Kisumu. In fact the problem we had with meat- just like with petrol- was not where to find it but how to buy it ( Nairobi people feel free to be envious )
My hunt for nyama started on Saturday afternoon with an innocuous enough tweet from one OtienoHongo (he of buying his wife Sukumawiki for Valentine ’s Day and blaming it on my blog ) Apparently the chap had decided to enter my county without first applying for a visa from yours truly. This was of course not going to be allowed, so I quickly condemned him to buying nyuka and nyoyo (porridge and githeri for the unenlightened) at my local joint.
Sadly enough the Uji lady was MIA (though I don’t put it past one Mr. Otieno-Hongo to have abducted her just so he could escape going to my local- I don’t trust these Nairobi people), so I reluctantly agreed to a Meat-and-Greet instead. I had heard rave reviews of this place called the Laughing Buddha, and we agreed to meet there for the momentous occasion. (Yes momentous- how many times do you get to meet the great MagB for the very first time? Exactly)
As it turns out, the Laughing Buddha was not laughing with us but rather at us. You see, this place is –duh!- a Buddhist place. Which, it turns out, means they do not sell meat. They do have some really delicious vegetarian fare, and I got to eat this seriously yummy cup cake, so it’s actually a nice place to go and discover that there is life after meat.
Now, the LB is located in a food-court type setting with two other (non-buddhist) eateries. The one right next to it has a barbeque grill, which on this occasion was located a mere 5 feet from our table. So there I am, stomach rumbling like I hadn’t eaten for the last three days, with the smell of chicken choma and mushikaki wafting towards me, tempting me to stop pretending to be a lady and- as they used to say in the guys’ Mess in campus- ‘ATTACK!!’
Even as my non-veg fare arrived and was consumed, I kept sending covetous glances at the grill. I asked our waiter if we could be allowed to buy some nyama- at which he looked at me as if I had suggested that we perform a resurrection ceremony for the recently dead and unlamented OBL. We were informed that we could not even sit on the table we were at with any meat product in our hands.
Of course I got into an argument with the waiter, during which I may have pointed out that the right to eat meat was entrenched not only in the Constitution, but in the NEMA Act and the Witchcraft Act. At that point, my new friend – who for some strange reason was not enjoying my brilliant (and somewhat loud) ‘debate’ – got a buddy to send an ‘emergency’ phone call and sped away in the night, never to be seen again.
I finally got my waiter to allow me to place an order for Take Away Mushikaki which I did with a bit (ok, a lot) of fanfare. I don’t know what nyama guy had against me, but when I complained after having waited for about 50 minutes for my mushikaki to be ready (remember that I had a hyenas-eye view of the goings on at the grill), I was informed that my order was still on the waiting list. At that point I walked away in a huff, hoping of course that they would call me back and give me someone else’s order. Alas- I am not that influential.
Anyway, I slept with nyama on the brain, and by lunchtime Sunday I decided to look for some delicious nyama choma to feed the beast. So I stroll down to this nyama den located a kilometre or so from my house. It normally has some nice choma, only you have to buy the meat from the adjacent butchery’
Slight Digression Ahead:- I do not know if I have ever mentioned this, but I suck at mchongoano. I am the girl who had only one mchongoano line in school ‘Budako alienda kununua viatu size 8, akambiwa hakuna, akakasema –basi nipatie size 4 mbili’ (accompanied by hysterical laughter – but only from me) Which is why I appreciate people who can deliver the zingers. One of my favourite was a pal of mine who once told me ‘girl, you are so shady you go window-shopping at butchery’ (aah- we shall not discuss the truthfulness of that statement for now)
So, anyway, I headed over to the butcher, and he had these lovely cuts – succulent and just waiting to crack sizzle and pop in a good barbecue fire. With my mouth watering, I pointed to the juiciest looking piece of them all, and ordered ‘ Boss- hebu kata ka quarter hapo na uchomwe iwe soft kabisa’
I guess this guy was used to selling nyama of 2kgs onwards, because he looked at me with a sneer then continued with the business I had so rudely interrupted. I waited for about five minutes, then called out to him again, repeating my order.
The chap turned to me with all the madharau he could muster, then said’ Madam- hiyo nyama haiuzwi- ni ya display.’
Needless to say, the only choma I had that day were the veggies I burnt in frustration when I got back home.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I have beef with the Kisumu meat vendors