Music & Food – Kenyan Cuisine
By Courtney Buchanan
Music and food. Where’s the link? It’s all in the culture.
The first luncheon of Music and Food brought these two factors together. While promoting the Choral Arts’ concert Just Folks, the culture of Kenya was shared through the cuisine.
Beef shepherd’s pie, brown bread and vegetable masala were the key components to the Kenyan luncheon. The name of shepherd’s pie, also called cottage pie, comes from the fact that shepherding was a common lifestyle in Ireland. The Irish introduced the shepherd’s pie to the Kenyans. The Irish didn’t leave any part of the animal left, using even the small parts of meat that we typically wouldn’t eat for the shepherd’s pie.
Shepherd’s pie originated as a leftover dish. When people had beef or any meat leftover from the previous meal, they would make this filling dish. It consists of ground beef topped with mashed potatoes and drizzled with gravy. The sweet flavoring of the beef combined with the decadence of the mashed potatoes makes a great combination.
The brown bread may look like just typical bread with oats as a garnish. However, it has a very dense and grainy texture. When you bite into a slice, the bread has the consistency as if it were peanut butter, sticking to your mouth and requiring effort to chew. It is tasty as a side with soups, salads and main dishes.
Vegetable masala has influences from India. The spices used to prepare it are the same as those in Indian cuisine but are toned down. The dish includes many vegetables with potatoes as the core ingredient. A spoonful of vegetable masala accompanied by basmati rice, which is a long-grain rice with a light flavor, is quite savory.
“Art is a really great way to learn about other cultures,” said Silagh White, director of ArtsLehigh.
Music and Food, a new program hosted by ArtsLehigh and the Global Union, seeks to unite music and food through the commonality of culture. Three luncheons are scheduled for this school year to promote the Choral Arts’ concerts and open up a new avenue of insight into the musical sphere.
The Choral Arts incorporate around a dozen different cultures into one concert. Silagh said, “It’s a taste of this, a taste of that.”
Casey Rule, a Choral Arts’ composer, related both the music and cuisine aspects of the Music and Food program to culture. Rule said, “It’s significant that you aren’t just learning about different cultures but experiencing them.”
By having students come to the luncheons and concerts, Rule hopes to open up new cultures to students that they previously wouldn’t have experienced.
Kenyan food is a blend of many diverse cultures. Kenyan staple food such as maize, bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, chilies, peppers and pineapple came from the Portuguese. A North African clan, the Hima, introduced cattle herding as a customary lifestyle. Because cattle herding was so common, people used the cattle as a resource of butter, milk and meat. The British brought Indians to Kenya for labor and with the labor the Indians brought their curries, chapattis and chutneys.
The food from the Music and Food event were purchased from McCarthy’s Tea Room and Alando’s Kenyan Cuisine in Northside Bethlehem.
To try Australian or Tibetian food, check out the next Music and Food luncheon on March 22 at 12 p.m., highlighting cultures represented in the Voices of Mystery concert to be performed March 23 and 24.
Recipe for Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 potatoes, cooked and mashed
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ cup water
- Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion in skillet for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in ground beef and cook for 5 minutes. Mix in garlic and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Transfer beef mixture to prepared casserole dish.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together the mashed potatoes, egg and water. Spread evenly over beef mixture.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until potatoes start to brown.
Please note: This recipe was adapted from the www.allrecipes.com website.