Nyama Choma

I really wish I had some pictures for this post but I don’t, so I’ll have to do my best description with words alone. Yesterday I was out running errands for the center:  buying sugar, salt, 50kg of beans, and 50gk of Maize to make Githeri (a simple complete meal they love) for the center kids. I have Tito with me and we decide to go to lunch at a very typical place; he was excited to eat some Nyama Choma. Nyama = meat, Choma = grilled. This is basically the equivalent of our BBQ, minus the sauce and made with the worst, reject, old meat possible… so it’s very cheap. Our whole meal cost KES 250 ($3.30 USD) Every Kenyan I’ve met loves it, and so I followed my theory once again that what’s good for anyone is good for me.

So in we go to a tiny place that looks more like a morgue than a restaurant. There are old dried up animal carcasses hanging about, and a man flipping unidentifiable chunks of meat with his bare hands over a coal grill. He’s standing under what looks like an oven hood, but it has no exhaust pipe out the top so he’s basically in a smoker from the shoulders up. We order 2 KG of Nyama and go sit in a back “patio” (more like a gravel parking lot) area to wait. After a short time the guy brings our meat out on a big peice of wood that is heavily worn from lots of use. He starts to cut up our meat into bite sized chunks. He’s not even looking, let alone trying to cut meat off the bone or cut fat and guts off, just cutting right through everything so the pieces are small enough to fit in your mouth.

They said it was cow, some of it tasted like cow, but who knows. Each piece was an adventure, like a little treasure hunt for something that seemed like the meat I am used to. Who knew meat could be so colorful and textured? There were yellow parts, green parts, black parts, red parts, little tubes, balls, stringy things and more grissle that I’ve ever seen in one place. I asked about hot sauce or something…I got a pile of salt on the board. We also ate Ugali which is a pile of thick maize flower and water, (think left over cream of wheat after sitting  in the pot and drying out to a paste).  I don’t know what I ate, but I know I ate a lot of animal parts I’ve never had before and overall it was a good experience. I also probably ate a few flies since pretty much everything there was covered in them. No problem, you just shoo them away with your hand when going for another piece and try very hard not to visualize them flying from the open pit toilet 50 feet away. I think this would rival any fear factor event, and it just proved what Anne has said before:  that I might do pretty well on that show.

Now Tito would probably pay to be on fear factor. He can eat. At one point I looked over to the sound of some serious crunching and he said with pleasure, “Mmm this is a soft bone, I love these.”  He also commented that not even a dog could get anything more off the bones he’d eaten. His words, not mine. So, today my teeth are sore but I feel fine. I was a little concerned I might get sick but so far so good. I hear there’s a great Nyama Choma place right by our house so I look forward to taking Anne.   We’ll remember the camera on that trip!


8 thoughts on “Nyama Choma

  • Megan

    Ian, Please NEVER take me there!!!! I’m planning on getting into those skinny jeans while there – ha! Anne and I will definitely have to work on finding better food, especially without stringy things and tubes in it – that gags me!!! You’re a brave soul. Glad you didn’t get sick. When you get back to the states, “Survivor” for sure!!!

  • connie clemens

    I can barely type…YUK! You told me you wouldn’t have any problems with the food and it’s clear you were right. 🙂

  • Grammy

    I am glad Tito is big and strong in case you need help getting home. But good for you to be enjoying all in your great adventure.

  • Anna

    Hey Ian,

    This does not surprise me! When we worked together, I remember a co-worker asking you about various things, and if they were still good to eat after being left out by the kids, or if they were past their date, and you would always reply..”You’ll know it’s bad if you can smell it”.
    Guess your meal must have smelled appetizing! Hope you and your family are well! Keeping you all in prayers!

  • Sarah

    Ian this seems a tad familiar! Remember the whole chicken at that place in Flagstaff and you trying to chew the bones. Seem to remember some gagging going on a that meal. I guess all things in perspective.

  • Lindsey

    I think I have suddenly become a vegetarian. That was so disgusting, yet so intriguing. Thanks for making me want to gag, Ian!

  • rachel

    Oh wow this post made my day. So hilarious! I love food, so Im really happy you are embracing all of it there. I remember my sister telling me one of the coolest things she ate in Ecuador was live red ants, and how when they ran all around her mouth and stung her constantly, while she chewed them to death, it just felt like hot sauce.LOL


    I’m laughing that this post had a tag of ‘gross.’ Yes it was. 😉

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