When it was my turn to eat on our national carrier

Experience from Cape Town-Nairobi flight

In Summary

• It was a case of mixed fortunes as one meal was pathetic, the other amazing

Kenya Airways flight attendants serve passengers aboard a flight
Kenya Airways flight attendants serve passengers aboard a flight
Image: FILE

Anyone who knows me, is aware of how much I love eating.

That said and this being a column read mainly in Kenya, I must clarify that I am talking about food and not government tenders or public money. If I loved that kind of eating, I'd probably have a big job in government and certainly wouldn't be writing in newspapers that are only fit to wrap meat and fish.

My love affair with food began late in life. I was a picky eater as a child, but by teenage, I was beginning to appreciate different cuisines and learning to cook for myself. 


So when in the 1990s I was assigned to write an eating-out column, I was happy as a pig in muck.

When I flew out of Cape Town on the afternoon of July 20, the two meals served on KQ were the worst food I've ever eaten — and I've eaten some seriously dodgy food. 

I loved the “Deliciously Kenyan” packaging, but that was it. The pasta and chicken dish had been microwaved to within an inch of being recognised as fit for human consumption, and the beef offering was pureed minced beef stuck between sheets of pasta that was unashamedly pretending to be lasagne. 

I swore I would never eat KQ food again. 

On July 31, I stopped and filled up at the JKIA Java House, only to appreciate standards had dropped in the decade since I was a frequent Java House diner. Also, they appeared short-staffed, and the poor waitrons seemed harassed and short-tempered. 

Remembering my previous oath to myself, I wasn't going to eat on the flight, but then I relented and thought, I’d give the national carrier one last chance. I was pleasantly surprised and glad to have changed my mind. 

The fancy packaging was nowhere to be seen, and the beef and mashed potatoes with a side of spinach that looked suspiciously like sukuma wiki, looked fairly harmless. But my word! It tasted fabulous. In fact, I can honestly say it was right up there with some of the best semi-mass produced meals I've ever had. It tasted like home cooking but switched up for special guests. The potato salad was decent and the cake was moist.

If whomever was in charge of catering on July 31 can be encouraged to continue and even outdo themselves, KQ will have done themselves a huge favour.

The person behind the first meal needs to be retrained or otherwise incentivised to do much, much better. 

That said, I'm still horrified by the "no-name" spirits they sell on board. Surely the as airline can't be so hard up that it cannot afford a half-decent vodka like Smirnoff or a Gilbeys gin or even the seemingly resurgent Kenya Cane?

The stuff in the half-size plastic bottles does not signify the pride of Africa, its more like the deep, dark, secret shame of shady tavern that is just a little better off than a hooch den. 

"Furuta up your socksis" as they say in the almost dead Kenyan language of Ki-settler. 

Follow me on Twitter @MwangiGithahu