A dish my husband ate when he was in Kenya in 2001 which at its most basic is just braised kale and at its most gourmet (and, er, most American) includes meat, tomatoes, onion and some spices.
My Swahili doesn’t go much beyond Hakuna Matata (what a wonderful phrase!) but I have read that Sukuma Wiki translates into “stretch the week” or “push the week”. As in, “we don’t have any food, but no worries – Hakuna Matata – this kale is gonna last us all week.”
I have to admit, I wasn’t very excited about stretching the week. I don’t love kale, so having it as the main dish for three days was going to be a challenge.
Jon’s remembrance of sukuma wiki was a very wilted, very bitter kale with not much else going on in terms of meat or flavors – so I don’t think he was very excited either.
I don’t know how authentic my recipe was, but the final outcome was delicious. I can’t wait to eat it the next two nights!
STRETCH THE WEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!
I served it with Ugali, which didn’t have a ton of flavor but is apparently served by the boatload in Kenya because it is a great filler for hungry bellies.
Jon opened our prayer in Swahili and then moved to English, interceding for this beautiful country and its people.
Then, he showed me how to eat, forming a ball of ugali in your hand and then scooping up some sukuma wiki
As he put the first bite in his mouth he uttered “Oh my gosh!”, which I translated as “I am back in Africa! Back in Nairobi! Back in the bush! Back at Lake Turkana!”
I was so satisfied with myself for being able to transport him through time and space via a mouthful of Kenyan cuisine.
I continue to be amazed at food. At how central it is to a culture, to a family, to our survival. At how an aroma, or a taste, or even the act of using fingers instead of utensils can so strongly and so tangibly bring forth memories and emotions. At how it builds community and sustains and fills.
God uses food – something so simple yet so central – to care for me.
There are moments, days, weeks and years where my resources are stretched thin.
If I can just make it to 5:00 when daddy gets home…
If I can just get through the semester…
If I can just make it through this week…
Emotions are frail.
Time is short.
Stress is high.
Money is gone.
Husband is working late.
But we can gather around the table and be fed.
Maybe it’s steak and potatoes.
Maybe it’s Hamburger Helper.
Maybe it’s dinner out.
Maybe it’s sukuma wiki and you are pushing and stretching the week as far as you possibly can.
Maybe it’s an explosion of spices and memories, like it was for Jon tonight.
Maybe it’s not quite enough and you’re going to be a little hungry like my kids who “don’t like mom’s kenya food”.
Maybe it’s ugali – not very flavorful but getting the job done.
As I strive to simply survive, to stretch the week, I am reminded of another feast in front of me. A different table to which I have been invited.
A basic feast, to be sure.
Bread and wine.
That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
So simple, yet so central.
Bread and wine.
Body and blood.
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
As I approach the communion table on Saturday night, I will bring all of my stretching and striving and hunger with me and trade them in for blood that has been shed for me, a body that has been given for me, a feast that has been prepared for me, a table that has been set for me, bread that is fulfilling for me, wine that is cleansing for me, a God that is good to me.
This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.
Yes, I am the bread of life!
Hakuna mungu kama we we.
There is no one like you, Jesus.