To Dry Your Fish, Hang it on the Fence

My family has suffered a lost. Similar to American funeral traditions the family is coming together to support each other and celebrate the life that has passed on and food is very much apart of both the support and the celebration.

Today I bought four beautiful fish for our family dinner.

Water and oil don’t mix so before you fry the fish you have to dry out the water. I have seen this drying process happen in several ways but never hung on the fence.

This picture came out crazy against the ominous sky. I think it may be my favorite photo of my whole service.

DSC01701

Advertisements

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish – A Christmas Eve Story

We did what we never thought we would: got knee deep in a fish pond. Amber, Brit, and Anna came to spend the holidays with me in Western Kenya. They are coming from a pretty dry part of Kenya so we decided that this trip needed to be filled with as much water and fish (for the fish lovers) as possible.

After a bumpy ride to an interior village in my area we arrived at my favorite fish farmer cluster to witness the pond harvest. Next thing I knew we were inside the pond. Next thing after that I was completely covered in mud. We all had an absolute blast and brought home a ton of fish.

We did a quick pit stop back home to drop off the fish and change before heading to beautiful Lake Victoria to view the preliminary round of boat racing with Mike. There were tons of people and street food…so we loaded up on chips (fries), bananas, 5 Ksh popsicles that were gross and Brit and I quickly pawned off to some kids, boiled eggs with kachumbari (a kinda pico de gallo mixture) and soda and were prepared for the viewing. Sticking out like a sore thumb scored us a ride in a boat to view a round of boat racing up close and personal.

It really was a fantastic day.  Now for a ton of photos.

DSC08834DSC08837DSC08838

DSC08847DSC08856DSC08860DSC08866DSC08883DSC08876DSC08885DSC08901DSC08904DSC08909DSC08917DSC08923DSC08933DSC08940DSC08957DSC08961DSC08980DSC08982DSC08984DSC08991

The Dance of the Fish

In America, my guilty pleasure is reality chef competitions. I could spend hours watching the mastery in these televised kitchens, imagining the way the food tastes, taking notes of things I wanted to personally try and always ending each episode wishing I was a member in the audience.

I see I was dreaming and wishing far too small.

Ashley Palmer Watts, executive chef of London’s renown restaurant “Dinner”, was coming to Kenya and not just Kenya but MY AREA. WHY? To learn about organic fish farming in Kenya. And who is the master of fish farming? ME! Well I’m not I just got caught up in the emotional build up but I’m supervised and partnered with the people who are the masters of fish farming in Kenya.

And like that my dream of sitting in an audience was trumped by my reality of visiting fish farmers, learning more about fishing in the Lake and having a full out celebration with Mama Joyce and her family, Ashley and Farm Africa.

Fish Farmer & Lake Victoria Visit

Pre-Game

Food Prep

Dance of the Harvest

Dinner Served

Menu

Tomato, Potato, Ginger and Tilapia Stew

Grilled Fish on a Bed of Banana Leaves

Mango/Citrus Salsa

Chapati

The Party

Duncan: Before and After

Cooking Fish with Mama

I live on a family compound. Mama and Baba live in the main house. I have my own house and my 2 little brothers have their own house all within the family compound. My family has been incredibly accepting of me and I feel completely at home.

Mama is the best cook in Kenya. Although my biological family might not believe that I cook because I refuse to cook while I’m in CA my friends can attest that I do and I love it and if I live in this compound with the best cook in Kenya and not come book a significantly better cook then I did something wrong.

Whenever I get the chance I cook with Mama.

Here we are making fish and together we went through the whole process of removing the scales, removing the intestines, cleaning it and cooking it. It was delicious.

Here are photos of Me, Mama, and a neighbor that comes to help Mama do things around the house.

Note: Baba was our photographer 🙂

Fish Farmer in the Making

I think the 1st step of becoming a knowledgeable fish farmer, which I’m well on the way of being…is to first love eating fish so you can appreciate the works it takes to raise them.

This may be cheating, because the mamas in the market start frying fish around 5pm so eating fish requires little effort on my part.

Nonetheless here is a typical, very quick and delicious dinner for me in Kenya.

Week 1 at Site

Site: The location a volunteer works and lives for 2 years after PST.

I found out around week 3 where my site would be…that day was both exciting and terrifying. My packet said I would be in Western Kenya, north of Lake Victoria working with the Madiba Fish Farmers.

Yeah, I went fishing with my dad when I was around 4 (or so I’ve been told) but that’s the extent of knowledge on the matter. Paired with that lack of knowledge on Aquaculture I had also been informed that exchanging sex for fish is a major issue, fish farmers are a group with extremely high HIV/AIDS rates, and there’s an issue with Jiggers. Welp…thanks Marketing degree.

Having been here 1 week…I feel like this site is PERFECT for me. Hopefully I won’t have to retract those words.

The area I live in is beautiful, I’m surrounded by trees and hills and beautiful green area. With time I’ll make sure to share some photos of the area. My supervisor is extremely knowledgeable in Aquaculture and is teaching me tons on fish farming and wants me to assist in training the community on doing Fish farming as a business. (Marketing degree…sorry I doubted you)

I will also be working with the Odiado Tumaini Assoication. Tumaini means HOPE in Kiswahili…if you are missing the irony…in America I am the Marketing Director of The HOPE Scholarship, an organization that awards need based scholarships to HBCU students and with this organization I will do some health related work and business basic trainings in the community.

So yeah…it feels a little divinely orchestrated.

We hit the ground running. Here’s an overview of my week.

Monday:

  • Went to Moody Awori, former VP of Kenya’s, residence to view his fish pond project which my supervisor is managing.
  • Met the former VP
  • Visited the Ministry of Fisheries and met the officials and toured their demonstration ponds.
  • Attended a Malaria net distribution event organized by my closes PCV, Sarah.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday:

  • Visited the offices of the:
      • District Commissioner
      • Public Health Officer
      • Deputy Police Officer
      • Ministry of Youth Services
  • Worked on the presentation my supervisor and I were to give on Fr.

Wednesday:

  • Attended a Malaria training for Community Health workers

Thursday:

  • Market Day (bought a few household things)
  • Visited a Peanut Ground Plant/Peanut butter making facility.
  • Presented to a Stanford PhD student on Aquaculture…well my supervisor presented on Aquaculture and I presented on the current business climate for fish farmers.

Friday:

  • Visited the former VP’s property to view the new construction of a nursery pond.
  • Went on a 3-month follow up visit with a fish farmer in the district to evaluate the growth rate of the fish and make recommendations on feed and pond maintenance.