This column shall run every weekend starting beginning of July, 2016.
Last evening, I drowned a ‘kabur’ of nyuka (porridge) with an entire plate of nyoyo (succotash). As I walked down the memory lane of eating escapades between my mother’s and grandmother’s house, I salivated at the imaginary smell of burnt kuon (cornmeal). I resisted the temptation of organizing an impromptu tripartite meeting of pi (water), nyuol ber (mother cooking pot) and mach (fire). I couldn’t resist anymore. This was the beauty of being a senior bachelor.
The meeting was fiery for sure and in no time, the resolution of the meeting was a big ball of cornmeal mixed with sorghum and cassava. Cassava was good because it smoothened the tongue, the corn made it grindable in my backbench teeth and the sorghum cleaned my stomach for the next meal. If one sat on the other end of the table, one would barely see my paw-paw shape head.
Villagers had nicknamed me “Ogwang’ kuon kore yom” (Ogwang’ cornmeal has a soft heart). I never knew why but I guess it’s because of my signature style of delivering a lump of kuon into the soup before I transported it to its destination. It was like a kingfisher that ferociously dives into the water and in no time leaves with fish dangling from its beak. My style involved digging a hole methodically in a lump of kuon to ferry soup into my Nilotic mouth where upon light chewing I would drown it down under. And my appetite would double! It’s like Gor Mahia and the team of Leopards turned my stomach into a stadium before I was born.
That aside, I smiled at my delicious mbuta (Nile Perch) lying peacefully in another ohigla (cooking pot). I had caught it the day before in the deep waters of Mfangano. I warmed my mbuta and watched its eyes mutely look at me. When I was done, I carried my heavy-headed kuon and mbuta and sat under my Siala tree – my open air dining area, rebuking my dog for looking at me as I prepared to devour my mbuta. It didn’t matter Saddam my dog hadn’t had a meal that day. In the eyes of food, Saddam and I couldn’t be equal.
Without wasting away saliva, my fingers skillfully attacked the plate of mbuta, carefully separating the flesh from the bones and when a bone made it to my mouth, my tongue would do automatic separation with lapidary precision, without wasting even an atom of flesh. As a fisherman with 21 years of industrial experience, eating fish is an art and science. The fish soup irrigated my throat as it escorted mbuta and kuon to their final (but not final) resting place.
When I was done with the eating, I went for the gourd and poured into my royal calabash ‘chak mopuo’ (soured milk). It wasn’t sour enough for my experienced tongue. I laced it with a pint of cow urine, stirred it abit and gulped it at one go. Then I belched. It was great…I belched again. I llooked up in the sky. It was awesome. The starry heavens. The breeze. The whistling of Siala. The chirping of crickets. I was full like a drum. What was left on my plate were bones. I had dug down the entire mountain of kuon. “Ogwang’ the generator! Ogwang’ the grinder!” That’s how my fans praised me during eating competitions.
Uuuuuu! That was the sound of what turned out to be a volcanic eruption from within. A sharp pain in my round stomach. The sound grew louder and louder like that of a bellowing bull, and then…and then my nose twitched! I needed to download…I had reached a point of no return. I remembered the fate that befell my grandfather Okal Tako, the man who was known as the greatest shameless lover of food; he attacked food like a deranged hippo charging at a man. I wondered whether I would make it to the finals in the forthcoming eating marathon at Migwena Festival in Sakwa. I had registered in the “Kuon-Nyoyo-Nyuka” category. Nyuka would be served in a nyuol ber sufuria/cooking pot. Nyuol ber referred to the big sufurias that were meant for big families. Nyuol ber meant “giving birth is good.”
“I would have to practice better” I said quietly, grabbing wet leaves of wild plants as I rushed to the “open download centre” in the nearby bushes.