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Kenya

Nice Rice

Twenty kilometres west of Embu the land is flat. It is perfect for growing rice. Rivers flowing south from the slopes of Mount Kenya provide plenty of water for irrigation. I prefer to cook the Pishori variety of rice, as it is thin-grained and fragrant, almost as good as Basmati rice. For small quantities, I buy the rice loose in the market. However, when buying sacks of rice to take to Nairobi, we call in at the Nice Rice Factory.

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Farmers also grow sugar cane and vegetables in the rich, black cotton soil. At the entrance to the Nice Rice Factory, there was a kiosk selling crushed sugar cane juice, sometimes flavoured with beetroot, ginger and lemon juice. An advertising billboard extolled the medicinal virtues of the juice.

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Four girls promoting the sale of cane juice were listening to music and chatting. They called me over to try a sample. Unsurprisingly, it was sickly sweet. The price of 500ml of the full strength cane juice was a very reasonable 100 Kenyan shillings. It was very popular with wasps. The girls would only agree to a photo if I bought a drink.

Other outlets dilute the juice by soaking partially crushed canes in water and squeezing them through the rollers again. They also add lemon juice to offset the sweetness.