Discovering Lamu, Kenya, with the Throw Down Queen, Miss Mandi
The aptly named Miss Mandi (Mandi Sarro) is a Kenyan radio personality and a self taught cook who lives in Nairobi. Her series on Lamu caught my imagination and has had me thinking about visiting Lamu. As much as Lamu is amazing, a rather large doze of charm, enthusiasm and a sheer natural ability displayed by Miss Mandi in drawing viewers into her experience played as much of a part in this new found fascination with Lamu. Lamu or Lamu Town is a tiny town on Lamu Island in Kenya. Lamu i’m told is a UNESCO World Heritage site which also happens to be Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited town founded in 1370.
We caught up with Miss Mandi to find out a bit more about her and her thoroughly enjoyable web series on Lamu, some of which you can find here – Watch Miss Mandi, Kenya’s Throw Down Queen, discover Lamu.
What is the inspiration behind your trip to the beautiful Lamu?
Lamu had been on my bucket list for a while and as a result when I got invited to cover the Lamu Food Festival that happens from April 15-17, I thought it would be perfect to film that content. To top it off, travel cures ignorance. So I went into it ready to learn & soak in the Lamu culture.
What is your most memorable story from Lamu?
Everything was memorable, however, the one that keeps coming to mind was how safe Lamu is. We were at a restaurant and once we left it did not hit us until hours later that we forgot a bag full of equipment at this restaurant. When we got back to the restaurant, everything was intact! See, I currently live in Nairobi and I love this city so much, however, if that incident happened in Nairobi that bag would be gone. I remember everyone reassuring me that there are no thieves in Lamu and lo and behold, it was true. Also, the dhow dinning was beyond relaxing and magical. Everyone should definitely enjoy dhow dinning.
What role does food play in your travels?
As a food blogger I feel its important to tell stories, especially stories about the food culture of the places I visit.
What dishes did you try in Lamu that you’d recommend to others?
Hoho, which is the Lamu crepe immersed in coconut milk is to die for and should be given a shot. Samaki wa kupaka (Fish coated with coconut sauce) is great as well. Peponi Hotel have amazing sushi, their stir fry duck will literally have you wanting to lick your plate.The pan fried calamari from hapa hapa restaurant is beyond delicious and the jumbo prawns from Lamu Palace will have you ordering more and to top it all off they have great wi-fi! When it comes to street food, mkate wa nyama, aka swahili pizza will literally have you buying a ton of them because they are that good! Lastly, mkate wa sinia, chips mayai, biriyani & pilau, I highly recommend.
Which part of the world would you travel to, just to sample the delights of their cuisine?
I’m dying to visit Lagos! I love spicy food and everyone keeps saying I’d be in heaven. To top it off I love Fela Kuti plus I wouldn’t mind to shoki while enjoying jollof rice. Ha!
What would you say to fellow Africans who may be a little hesitant about exploring and finding the hidden gems right here in Africa?
Travel cures ignorance. When you travel, you learn and you can never stop learning. It is also important to travel and eat different cuisines because it’s great for your palate.
Anything else you’d like to tell your fans?
It’s high time we started sharing our narrative of Africa to the world through social media because for years the narrative that has been shared has been in a negative light yet we have so much beauty to share.