So I have decided to start a series of the things that make or define Kenya: the funny, sometimes ridiculous things that define who we are and what we stand for. Kenyan made is just me defining our lives in a completely different light. Mostly the crazy stuff, the mundane stuff, the real stuff, the Kenyan stuff. So to start us off, let’s begin with the basic Kenyan made stuff…Mutura! Right? If you live in Kenya, mostly Nairobi I’m sure you have come across Mutura and if you are not, Mutura (African Sausage)is stuffed cow’s intestines, roasted over a grill and enjoyed with Kachumbari (Tomato, onion, and Chili salad).
I don’t think there is any Kenyan, maybe there is, who has never eaten Mutura. It is just that finger food that you find in every, if not all estates and you find crowds of people leaning in with toothpicks picking pieces off a wooden chopping board, not really talking to each other. Strangers sharing a meal, not speaking yet enjoying their end of day meal…Mutura. There have been many theories surrounding Mutura that you would think that it would stop people from indulging in this piece of finger food. But no, Mutura places will never be few in fact they keep increasing that if they were fully fledged Restaurants they would have many loyal customers. Mutura lovers are really loyal people, no matter how many Mutura guys set up shop in any area, you will always find people huddled over one local guy ignoring the others.
If not eating Mutura, it is drinking the bone soup that you will usually see the guy swinging it in a 5 liter bottle. I never understand why that is done, is it to mix the soup or make it tastier? Well, the Mutura Soup drinkers know why it is prepared that way.
Mutura business normally starts in the evening around 5pm there. You will see the barbeque grill being lit, cow and goat heads being roasted in preparation for the soup. A few second later you will see the Mutura laid on the grill ready to be roasted.
Wait a few more seconds…there comes the evening crowd gunning for their space at the Mutura bench ready with their appetites to devour that delicious, famous, local delicacy that has been a Kenyan favorite for many years. Mutura is normally devoured while standing since it is finger food, it is not a kind of food that you sit in luxury and take your time with it. It is a fast business, order your 10Ksh, 20Ksh, 50Ksh Mutura, they chop it up for you, ask whether you will take the Kachumbari, sprinkle salt on your food, you eat, order another or leave, and then another group comes to the table to repeat the process. Nobody ever buys Mutura for more than 100Ksh all at once, since it is something that you gulp down your throat in a few and move on with your day. It is such a systematic way of eating that sometimes I just watch the whole unfolding scene; buy, eat, pay, and repeat process. Like lions in the jungle at a watering hole.
Most Mutura places have expanded and also cook local delicacies like Ugali and Nyama Choma (Roast Meat) and traditional vegetables. Those who eat such meals are the only ones that get to seat while eating, though sitting is still not a luxury, when you eat, you finish and give space for the next hungry customer. And anyway, the seating is not that comfortable, it’s usually benches stacked against a wall, or leaning on something. Some use soft drinks crates or wooded stubs for their customers to sit, nobody ever complains. After all you are there to eat and leave, not eat and linger on the scenery.
Mutura is so Kenyan that you either love it or hate it. Kenyans love Mutura and so much so because it is cheap and requires little utensils to use. Have 10 bob, you can satisfy your cravings which are never satiated so you find yourself adding another 20bob and another until you realize you might just as well have eaten your bus fare.
The best part about Mutura is that it knows no social class, anyone can afford it and it’s usually a healthy option to those fast food that we stuff our stomach with. There are basically three types of Mutura, I think, one is stuffed with minced meat, another stuffed with Matumbo and the last stuffed with Dried blood all roasted to perfection. They never taste the same in every place that you buy, even at the same place, the Mutura guys have their own styles of cooking/ roasting it. As soon as the roasting begins, it never ends they are usually busy serving, taking payment and roasting every single minute.
You would think that since people eat it while standing, that it is only a male thing. But it isn’t, you’d find women also joining in, in the feasting, either at the selling point or buying take away to eat in their house. I tell you Mutura is completely addictive. You go there with your 100 shillings and decide to buy just for 20 shillings, only to ask the guy to keep adding for 20 shillings until you are told it is your last twenty. Then you search your pockets and/or bag for that coin that might have fallen in your purse/pocket so you can have just one more bite of your indulgence. Addictive I tell you.
Mutura eating is Kenyan made, I don’t know about other countries but in Kenya, Mutura is just part of the social bonding process especially in the Middle to Lower Class part of the country. Nowhere will you find groups of individuals huddled over a barbeque grill than that local Mutura place that is a favorite evening joint where you get your craving satisfied for a meaty treat that leaves you wanting more. Whether you love, like or hate it, Mutura is here to stay and if restaurants knew the value of this delicacy, they would have it in their menu. Still, it wouldn’t be the same experience as the one you eat at the Kibanda at Njoros. Nothing says Kenyan made than sharing this local, simple delicious meaty treat. If you have never tasted it, you are missing a very important element of being Kenyan. It is delicious and addictive, ask me, I know, that reminds me I haven’t eaten it in a while. Heee! I hope Njoro anafungua leo!
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