The government has been urged to promote gourmet or culinary tourism since unique food was now considered a vital component of the tourism experience.
A gourmet expert in African Traditional Foods, Mrs. Ruth Ongiri said culinary tourism has not been promoted in Kenya but Asians learnt a long time ago that part of the attraction to their countries was their unique foods.
Speaking during an interview with KNA at Lanet sub-county on Friday, She said tourists left their countries to seek a different experience and it was disheartening for them when they found continental menus in our hotels because they looked forward to sampling the unique African foods such as githeri, sagetti and busaa.
Mrs. Ongiri said the increasing popularity of homestays, where tourists pay to stay in people’s homes were partly due to their wish to sample the lifestyle of Africans right from what they eat to their daily activities.
“Tourists are more experienced and have disposable revenue for leisure and that was the reason they escape from the daily routine of their usual working environment, to seek something different,” she said.
She said tourists were looking after the origin of the gastronomic food, stories about the food, history and thus the need to make it an expression of cultural tourism, which would provide them with unique tastes.
Health challenges, she said, have now forced many people to seek authentic food because it has the capacity of rejuvenating an ailing body.
The gourmet expert gave an example of people with diabetes who were advised to drink porridge and eat finger millet ugali, which is popularly referred to as brown ugali.
She said that Chinese and Indian foods were now served in all international restaurants and it was important that African culinary art was promoted to that level.
However, she said, Africans have promoted and taken their food all over the world but their governments were slow in supporting and promoting them because they have not realized the many dollars traditional foods were likely to attract.
She added that nutritionists were slowly beginning to realize the importance of people eating the foods naturally found in their regions since that’s what their bodies were accustomed to.
“Eating wheat seems to have a negative effect on African bodies and especially the women who add significant weight maybe because it was never a tropical crop and our bodies are not engineered to eating it,’’ Mrs. Ongiri said.
By Veronica Bosibori