Roasted maize has finally made it to the high table

Maize roasting alongside nyama choma (in foil). [XN Iraki]

Two weeks ago, I complained that roasted maize, unlike its cousin the boiled one, has failed to make it to the high table. It was an oversight.

Last week, I found maize being roasted on the same “fire” with meat in a restaurant near Sagana, overlooking the legendary Gaturi, Murang’a where witchcraft is said to have had a home as per the legends.

One native of Gaturi whose name I will not disclose for security reasons told me the talk about witchcraft there is not all hot air. It’s paradoxical that Gaturi neighbours Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga where Gikuyu nation originated. 

How can death and life be so close?

Back to food. If meat can now be roasted, why not maize? This hotel gives you a choice between roasted maize and meat. I choose maize. One, it was very exotic, we are used to buying roasted maize from the roadside where it is never of out of season! Kijabe is one such place where roasted maize is always on sale. 

Like other Kenyans, I love roasted maize. The fear is always its freshness. And I am talking from experience. Some pili pili is often used to cover up staleness.

Having roasted maize while growing up, we can easily differentiate fresh from stale maize. Is it true women are better at detecting freshness than us?

Two, I chose maize because it’s quite innovative in such a high-class restaurant. Like Classic FM which feeds on our nostalgia, roasted maize does the same. Who never roasted maize when young? The urbanites really missed the fun and still miss it every year. Think of roasting maize in the July cold.

Why did it take so long for maize to get on the high table? One could be its association with low-class, read hustlers. Two is technology. Boiled maize and nduma are easy to prepare - just boil. Roasting meat or maize is a skill, more like painting or playing a musical instrument. Roasted maize or meat is hard to “mass produce.” 

But riding on our nostalgia and concern for health, roasted maize has finally found its way to the high table. Visit this hotel between Murang’a town and Sagana and enjoy roasted maize, from the source as they say about mineral water. You will thank me later. You can’t fail to notice the hotel, it’s called Nokras.