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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Food Experiments

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They say you never know what you’ve got till it’s gone. One minute you’re soaking up as many episodes of House of Cards as you can, and the next, you’re already thinking ‘What do I have planned for the second week in March?’ Weekends are truly some of life’s little mercies. And then there’s food. For people who love good food, they’d testify that there’s a certain happiness that comes from saturating your taste buds in all sorts of delightful flavours. It’s that feeling that comes knowing that your body is well nourished because you have chosen to bestow all the yummy goodness on your palate.

Now, imagine a weekend filled with good food. Heavenly. Well, until you see the menu and you can’t identify with anything on it. My friend, Lois, went on a date with a guy she recently started seeing. It was a much anticipated one, as they hadn’t gone on their official first date and she couldn’t wait to see where he would take her to. They went to a Morrocan restaurant and my dear friend came back dissatisfied. She complained about everything on the menu, saying she was unable to eat anything. Why?
“You know I don’t really know how to experiment with food like that!There was nothing familiar on the menu”
I laughed and said “You mean there was no Indomie and Sardine?!”
“Laugh all you want but not everybody likes all this mede mede in the name of being refined and polished abeg.”

I wondered how her boyfriend felt about having made all that effort for her and finding out she was a picky eater. Growing up, I had some favourites and there were some things I wouldn’t go near with a ten-foot pole. I LOVED yam and fried stew – mostly because my grandma would dice it up in little cubes and then spread the brown pepper sauce all over it. On the other hand, I could not stand Ogi (pap or whatever name it is called). As a young child, my mother would decorate the Ogi with milk and sugar – it was to no avail. I hated it then, and I hate it now. My feelings for oats are probably transferred aggression from Ogi.
In secondary school, we had those ‘slum books’ where people fill in information about themselves. In the ‘worst food’ section, I had one constant entry – ‘Fufu’.

Looking back now, it’s weird for something to be your worst food if you’ve never eaten it before. However, I had a policy then that if it stank within an inch of my mouth, it wasn’t getting entry clearance. Fast forward to years later and I became an expert in Stock Fish and Da’dawa (locust beans/iru/agidi).

When I got on the healthy living train about a month ago, I had to do a complete re-evaluation and assessment of what I LOVE to eat and what I really should be eating. As a lover of all things with super hot pepper, I have always found it incredibly difficult to eat AND enjoy things like bread – or any of its derivatives like burgers and sandwiches. So it was extremely easy to cross out bread from the list of Don’ts. However, it became more difficult when I realized that things I really enjoyed like sweet potato pottage, Gizdodo. I am starting to like broccoli and cabbage – slightly ‘edited’ with Cameroon pepper to make it at least bearable.

Growing up in a somewhat bi-cultural house, Tuwo Masara and Miyan Kuka had as much prominence as Amala and Gbegiri. There was, however, very wiggle room for saying you didn’t want or like something. “When you start providing your own food, then you can dictate what gets served”. According to another friend, cold Fufu was a regular staple in their house, and they were even being mandated to eat. Refuse – at your own peril!

I went to visit a family recently and I was told their 6 year old daughter, Tomi, was a Vegan. I asked if she knew what it meant to be a Vegan? I was not just shocked because of her age, but because I’ve never met a Nigerian Vegan. Her mother said there was a cartoon on TV where one of the characters was a Vegan and the girl suddenly said that she wasn’t going to eat meat again, because of cruelty to animals. Children of nowadays are enjoying if you ask me.

I shall leave you here. Please share some of your most exciting food experiments with us. What are your favourite foods? What would you absolutely NOT eat? What foods have you grown to love over the years? Oh and share your most embarrassing food moments!

Have a fantastic week ahead. I’m so zing’d this week, feels like I can take over the world! I wish you the same too.

Peace, love & cupcakes.

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You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.

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