People often ask me: “What’s the food like in Africa?”
It would take pages to describe all the diversity, richness and purity of our home-grown produce in Kenya. We have an abundance of most things edible and drinkable – weather permitting, that is. It happens, not infrequently, that the harvesting is held back by prolonged drought or seasonal floods that cut the tenuous supply lines.
I’ve often wondered what kind of shoppers’ pandemonium would ensue if the loudspeakers in an American Supermarket, say, were suddenly to announce:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we regret, there will be no milk butter or cheese for the next 4 weeks!”
Whereas in Kenya we’d hardly be fazed by such a thing, well used as we are to the periodic shortages of what others would see as the essentials of daily sustenance.
Nor is a guest likely to notice that there’s anything missing, since many a local recipe has been devised on the basis of “making do” – or, more often than not, on the old axiom of “necessity being the mother of culinary invention.”
Nowadays, the lodges and Safari camps will have multi-course meals ready and waiting for whenever they are wanted. But en route between one civilized oasis and another, you still don’t find too many convenient places to grab a quick snack. A slice of the old Safari Loaf keeps for days wrapped in foil in your pocket. It might well come in handy if your car conks out, as it may, 200 miles from the nearest mechanic.
Here’s how our favorite stand-by bite in the bush is made:
For two or three loafs (depending on the size of your bread tins) you will need:
- 3 cups whole wheat brown flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- two teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped nuts (use macadamia, or cashew)
- 1 cup pitted prunes or dates, chopped
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup butter, at room temp.
- 1½ cups coarse sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup very ripe and mashed Banana
- 1 cup chopped pitted Olives
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- a little Orange juice as needed
- Preheat your oven to 350 F
- Blend sifted flower and ingredients 2 to 9
- Beat eggs until foamy and mix with the butter, sugar and mashed banana until creamy (use a hand mixer).
- Now add the Olives, Syrup, and Orange juice
- Add this mixture to and blend with the flower/fruit mixture
- Fill 2 or 3 greased and flowered loaf tins with the mixture, about ¾ up.
- Bake 1 hour or more. If your wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, it is done. Let cool in the tins before turning out.
- Now if you like a more “potent” version: wrap the cooled loafs in cheese cloths soaked in Brandy. Cover with foil and leave in the fridge for some days.
Warning: Don’t eat the whole loaf all at once or you’ll gain 6 pounds.