A guest post by Kamanga Wa Ruiru, a writer.
It is a most innocuous thing, a boiled egg, one mostly associated with high-school trips (if you were lucky, the bread and soda that were served as lunch came with one), high-school visiting days and graduation visits (probably because of the ease of preparation), lazy mornings cooking for a large family during a get-together (because who is going to whip up ten omelettes while nursing a hangover?), and of course, the joint. Not the joint with laid-back music and lighting and that serves single-malt whiskys (the only whisky they have is Hunter’s Choice). Tha Joint. Da Joint joint, where the lighting is dim, not soft, and if the music sounds laid-back, it is because the speakers are old or you have arrived early (three in the afternoon) and the DJ is preparing his tracks.
During my uni days, I came to associate boiled eggs with nights out at the joint. They are cheap and somewhat filling, especially when peppered with that soggy kachumbari made from mainly tomatoes with onion and pilipili ya hapa na pale. They always came in grimy buckets that were once clear or makeshift pushcart ovens. I enjoyed watching their rapid de-shelling with a tea spoon (my Mum was so impressed that she decided to learn how to do this from one such vendor. I left her still practising). Or maybe this was my hunger talking, the flurry of metal and fingers portending the fulfilment to come and heightening my eagerness (I like eggs. I really like eggs when I am drunk or hungover). It, the egg, was served on a piece of a flimsy cut-up clear polythene bag, like the ones you would use to store boiled lentils in the freezer for later frying.
The flavour is something I have never been able to re-create: sweet and salty, with a hint of raw yolk sitting heavily at the back of your mouth, being re-created with the satisfying burp at the end of consuming each egg (in the states we were in then, probably anything would have tasted divine). They also seemed to always go best when inebriated. And one was never enough. On an ordinary day (or night, a sober one, say from work), few of us would be caught dead eating them. I know I would not. A smokey, yes, not a boiled egg. Seeing them in the light, they take on an almost sinister glow. I know I am probably being unfair, but… Not when the sun is out.
Note: I asked folks on Twitter & Facebook to contribute to the cause that is #CuminWrites366. Kamanga is the second contributor to be published; here’s to many more and Thank You KWR!