Kenyan in KC
The Kansas City Star
At lunch with a colleague at The Star a few weeks ago, she asked what I had found most odd about America and Americans.
Home is more than 7,000 miles east of Kansas City. When you’re that far from the familiar, it is possible to find a lot that happens in ways different from what you’re used to.
A good example would be the centrality of ice in an American’s life.
We arrived in Washington D.C. towards the end of March. It was sunny on March 22 and we even toured the National Mall with the other Fellows. It was cold the following day but wherever we went for a meal, the waiter would instantly place a glass of water with ice in it before each of us.
Having some ice in your drink makes perfect sense on a sunny summer day but not when it’s so cold your face feels like its freezing.
If you walk into a decent restaurant in the middle of Nairobi on a cold day, the waiter asks whether you’d prefer your water warm or cold.
In fact, having ice in your drink is a bit of an oddity in most places I have been to in Kenya.
Having some ice in your strong drink also makes it a little better for most people, but some with experience in this area complain that it does water the liquor down.
You’ll need water when your head is ringing the next day anyway, so having some earlier is also often advised.
Now I have learned to tell the waiter to have no ice in the water when I go to a restaurant. It’s also easy to forget to do that when the sun is blazing outside, as it now so gratefully does.
I probably notice this because of the simpler approach I generally have to meals, which is also common in our part of the world.
It’s also probably why the inclusion of cheese in burgers, and the suggestion that it goes well with most other meals, is also a bit puzzling.
It takes some getting used to, so I suppose that’s how it will be.