A lot of Kenyan families only eat one meal each day. That meal is dinner. Dinner is usually served around 7 or 8 in the evening and is served in what we would call the living room. The kitchen is where the food is cooked. In a Kikuyu household, in Naivasha, there were chairs all along the wall and small tables in the center of the room. When dinner was served everyone got their own little table. Whereas my Luhya neighbors, in Chamasiri where I lived later on, had a large table with chairs around it similar to how we eat in the US. That’s not to say that all Kikuyus eat off individual little tables or all Luhyas have a large table. These are just two examples.
No matter how you are seated to eat in Kenya, the rest of dinnertime is the same. After you are seated the hostess, usually the wife of the patriarch, goes to each person with a pitcher of water, a plastic bowl, bar of soap, and towel so everyone can wash their hands before they eat. Sometimes the water is warmed and sometimes not. In Kenya, everyone washes their hands before they eat. Even in a restaurant there is a sink with a bar of soap and towel for you to use. It is considered very rude not to wash your hands.
Once everyone has washed their hands dinner is placed on the table and a blessing is said. The hostess then serves everyone with a portion of dinner. An average Kenyan household generally eats ugali na sukuma wiki or chapati na sukuma wiki. Ugali is a stiff porridge (reminds me of play dough) made out of maize meal (white corn meal). Sukuma wiki is similar to collard greens usually boiled with some tomatoes and onions. Chapatis are a flat round bread on the idea of a thick tortilla. These two meals, ugali na sukuma wiki and chapati na sukuma wiki, do not require any silverware. You simply use the ugali or chapati to pick up the sukuma wiki and then you put it in your mouth to eat it.
After dinner a beverage is served. Most often it is tea made with milk and sugar. Other times you may be served coffee or just water. There usually isn’t dessert after dinner. If there is, it is usually some fruit like bananas, papaya, mango, or maybe a pineapple.
When dinner is completed the hostess makes her rounds through the dinner guests again with the water pitcher and bowl so they can wash their hands again.
There are other main dishes served in Kenya. There are potatoes with rice, beans (legumes) with tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes, corn, cabbage and other vegetables, or just cabbage with carrots, onions, and rice this is served with chapati.
Wait! What you have written here is a vegetarian diet! Don’t they eat any meat? Yes, meat is served in Kenya, but not often. It is expensive to buy and generally if meat is served that means that the family probably slaughtered one of their chickens, goats, or cows. If a special guest is coming for dinner a chicken will be slaughtered or the guest is extra special a goat, or even a cow, is the main course.