Monday, 14 December 2009

Kenya Trip - Tilapia

I have looked up tilapia, or Nile Perch on the Interweb, with a view to possibly breeding them in still waters for food, and also as a means to reduce mosquito larvae (tilapia love mosquito larvae).

But I had never eaten one, although they are common enough, being sold raw or ready-cooked in markets, on the roadside ... they are the East African MacDonald's.

A couple of weeks ago, I travelled to Bungoma to meet some people working on ways to use water hyacinth, which is a ... well, that's another blog, isn't it?

After our meeting, we were invited to a late lunch at a nice restaurant in Bungoma town. As it was pouring with rain, we dashed from the car into the building, but i had left my reading glasses on the dashboard. So when it came to reading the menu, I couldn't and relied on Vincent, my associate and good friend to order for me.

Vincent and one of our hosts were served first and I was horrified to see what was on their plates - a large fish, head to tail included, accompanied by a mound of ugali.

Then our other host was served the same and my heart sank. I don't eat fish as a general rule, and I am not too fond of ugali, especially in the quantities that Kenyans seem to eat it!

My plate arrived, with complete fish and ... chips! The waiter also brought me a spoon and fork, which I declined.

So there was nothing to do but tackle this monstrosity on my plate. I watched my companions to see how they tackled it. It looked easy enough, so I gave it a try. Pinching the skin between two fingers and my thumb, I felt the flesh come away from the skeleton. I gingerly put it to my mouth. It was delicious. No, it was better than that.

On the way home, I mentioned to Vincent that I rarely eat fish, but that I have really enjoyed the tilapia, and a couple of days later, for dinner, it was served again.

On my return to the UK, I was doing the weekly shop in a big shop starting with "T", and as I passed the fresh fish counter, what did I see? Fillets of tilapia. To be sure, it was not Kenyan tilapia. This was from Jamaica. But I bought two fillets anyway, and yes, it was just as good.

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