12 October 2010

Kenya Cookery Book

In the 1920's many a second or third born son, who became the "spare" rather than the "heir", headed out to the wilds of Africa. At the time it must have seemed like a fine idea. Their wives found themselves at a bit of a disadvantage. In order to make the transition from London to Nairobi more palatable, the St. Andrew's Church Woman's Guild, Nairobi compiled the Kenya Settlers' Cookery Book and Household Guide in 1928.

In addition to recipes, there was a dictionary of words in Swahili, info on how to iron woollens and lace, how to clean a white felt hat and how to keep paraffin lamps from smoking. All things I am sure the ladies of the Woman's Guild felt their sisters from London would need.

For the women who landed at Happy Valley, advice on addiction and how not to get caught sleeping with someone who was NOT your husband might have been a bit more useful.

As time marched on, the St. Andrew's Church Woman's Guild, Nairobi was undaunted by the more seemly arrivals from England and they have continued to offer updates to their guide, including how to cook with those newfangled electric cookers.

Still, if you find yourself stuck in Africa with nary a haggis in site, the St. Andrew's Church Woman's Guild, Nairobi have a recipe for you.

Mock Haggis

250 g. liver
125g. suet
1 large breakfast cup oatmeal
1 medium-sized onion
pepper and salt

Cover the liver with water and boil for 20 minutes, having first removed the scraggy bits. When cold, mince it. Brown the oatmeal in a little butter, then add finely chopped suet and onion, minced liver and seasoning. Mix all the ingredients with some of the water the liver was boiled in, but do not make too soft. Grease basin, pour in the mixture and steam 3 hours.

Actually, I find the mock haggis might just trump the actual haggis. And how, you might ask, does one address a haggis? Like Robert Burns...

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit!" 'hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

To read more about the wild women of Happy Valley, check out Lucindaville.


  1. At least the ladies of the St Andrews Woman's Guild knew the difference between "site" and "sight."

    1. Ah, the problem with those pesky spell cheekers!


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