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Ayo Al: Who Says Your Cooking Methods Are The Best?

Ayo Al



At NYSC camp in Dakingari Kebbi, I joined the kitchen team. I loved to cook and I also didn’t find cleaning up as disgusting as some did, so I was comfortable being there.  It was time for carnival night, which meant we were soon to be out of the camp. Everyone was excited.

We had elected some set of people to go to the market with a list of everything we needed.  So those of us who stayed behind prepared; we fetched water, washed rented pots and plates and the likes.

It was there I really  understood to some extent what the essence of NYSC was/ what it was intended to be- a gathering of people from different tribes, villages coming together and interacting, learning from one another.

You see, in my platoon,  we had decided to make egusi soup with semovita, jollof  rice and fried chicken. Pepper soup was to be the last dish.  The problem started when we were to begin the cooking.

I had sliced the onions to be used in boiling the meat, got the seasoning ready and was waiting to collect the meat from the person who was washing it when another platoon member approached me.  She said “Please don’t boil the meat without putting satchet tomato.”

I hadn’t uttered a word when another member came to me stylishly as the other lady walked away “Please don’t put it in the food o. This people and their potty food.”

I was in a fix. To put it or not to. As I had never boiled meat using satchet tomato paste, I decided to do it like I was used to.

Then it was time to prepare the semovita. A set of people wanted a paste to be made before turning it into the boiling water (which had a bit of groundnut oil and salt) and then adding flour to the already thick boiling paste. Others wanted it made without much drama. Just pour the flour into the boiling water and the semo will turn out well.

It was surprising when this led to insults and only the thought of the soildiers nearby kept the punches from being thrown.  I heard big grammar, accented words, ‘fone’, dialectical insults and the likes.

One girl told another ” So because we are in this camp together, you think we are mates?  If you must know, I flew here from Lagos. Stupid Yoruba girl.”

To this the other girl responded,  “Yeye girl!  Spoilt brat! If you talk pass your mouth, I go wound you today. E ma wo eleyi ke

This went on and on. It got to a point no one intervened anymore. We were all tired.  And I thought,  “All because of how to make Semo?”

For me, I have made Semovita both ways and it turned out perfect.

Now when I think about it, it occurs to me that there is no set way to making a meal. Everyone’s method varies. Cook yours your way and let others do the same. I cook the way I cook now, because my mother taught me this way. Esther cooks that way because her grandma taught her that way.

To each woman,  her cooking method!

But the question is how do you reduce friction when a group of women who think they are professional cooks gather to make a meal?

Photo Credit: Noriko Cooper |

An avid reader and writer, Ayo Al hopes particularly to refract the ills in the society through her writings. A professional blogger, she is available for content writing, freelance writing and book reviews. She is also a business woman, fashion enthusiast and a dealer of watches. She can be reached via mail- [email protected] Check out her instagram: @thatsaucywriter


  1. Halima

    June 15, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Azin ehn cooking methods can make women fight eh. Like my friend will never accept my way of cooking egusi soup because I don’t fry the egusi, I boil my meat, and stock fish then put palm oil, seasoning and then the egusi

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      June 15, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      This is me on days I’m too lazy to fetch another pot to fry the egusi ?? – only difference is that my stockfish goes in before beef. Otherwise, yes ke, one-pot egusi still comes out really well.?

      My mother and I can’t cook in the same kitchen. How? When I boil meat with blended onions and she believes onions has no place in a pot of soup? Or she generously dashes the fried rice more oil and I’m of the belief that it’s not necessarily “fried rice” because you’ve literally fried the moisture out of every grain?? It’s better for each woman to just run her own show, without interference from the other.

      If not, na hunger go catch the rest of the household.??

    • Ayo Al

      June 16, 2017 at 10:09 am

      I cook my egusi just like you do. Thank you for reading Halima.

  2. Folu Richards

    June 15, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Lol….women and their different ways of cooking palava. I’m personally not interested in the way a meal is cooked or the process or method used. As long as the meal turns out nice,I’m fine with it. And its actually not bad to learn another way or process of doing a thing,it actually helps sometimes. Just like maths equation, let’s say for example,simultaneous equation. You can solve simultaneous equation using either elimination,substitution and graphical methods. There are some simultaneous equations that can’t be solved using graphical method and if you’re accustomed to only graphical method, you’ll surely be stuck. Thanks so much for sharing,Ayo.

    • Ayo Al

      June 16, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Folu Folu! Thank you dear.

  3. Amy naturale

    June 15, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Beautifully written. For cooking methods, I always can’t wait to taste something different n sweet, my method or not.

    • Ayo Al

      June 16, 2017 at 10:07 am

      Thank you for reading Amy naturale!

  4. No Headaches Please

    June 15, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    I wish it was just women cooking that sparks fly.

    How do you reduce the friction when women come together?
    Just being in the same room breathing the same air is enough to cause friction.

    Before you dive down my throat, read what I wrote carefully. ‘ A lot of times’ (which means-thankfully – not everytime).

  5. Lliki

    June 15, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Yeah, there’s no one way methods of cooking a good meal! When women who are good cook comes together for one course; it’s better they choose a leader, like someone to head the team.
    I learnt how to cook large meal with other people, through my aunt who was a leader of professional cooks.

    It can be very difficult trying to cook with young girls though!
    In all of these, the turn out of the meal (presentation and taste) that’s what matters most, although the process counts when it comes to how some meals are prepared.

    • Ayo Al

      June 16, 2017 at 10:16 am

      Thank you for reading, Lliki!

  6. Fisayomi

    June 15, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks for this Ayo! I can so relate. Just a couple of weeks ago, I made ogbono for my in-laws who were helping me care for my new baby. My offence was that i boiled the meats with onions and garlic. My MIL’s elder sister refused to eat the soup o. She ended up cooking another pot of soup.

    • Edo babe bestest Ogbono

      June 15, 2017 at 10:24 pm

      But you sef. Garlic inside meat for Ogbono. Sorry, you for put ginger, curry, thyme and parsley too sef join. Onions sef is stretching it. If you meet one kind bad Ogbono that doesn’t draw well, the onions will just help you add banger to thunder. It will be so flat like watery brown soup except you add plenty Okro to help it draw. Then you now come add garlic. Hian!!! I don’t blame the woman, I won’t eat it as well so will the people from my family. I’m Edo, we cook the best Ogbono in nigeria. Don’t let Esan women hear say you used garlic for Ogbono. You will be seriously flogged.

    • Hedx

      June 16, 2017 at 7:34 am

      Garlic in ogbonor soup?

    • Ayo Al

      June 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

      Fisayo, I’m glad you could relate. Thank you for reading.

    • Uberhaute looks

      June 16, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      My mil puts garlic, Ginger, efinrin, utazi, etc etc in the food and it tastes sweet.
      I have always been open minded when it comes to food, being a mixed race myself and married to another mixed tribe, it’s education galore of different food always and I am too joyous than fight about it.
      In fact, today I just learnt another way of making Semovita from Mil which makes methods I know 4!
      Abeg, live and let live o jare

  7. Limoges

    June 16, 2017 at 12:37 am

    Garlic ke? Ayam dead! ?

  8. Mama

    June 16, 2017 at 2:35 am

    But true true, how do you boil meat with tomatoe paste, not even pepper sef? Never heard of that. Well, those who grew up in the same family differ on how to prepare certain meals. I can’t be in the same kitchen my mum either 🙂 . So it is to be expected when people from a different enviroment and culture meet. Make the food sha sweet at the end of the day.

    • Ayo Al

      June 16, 2017 at 10:00 am

      Yes o. Make the food sweet at the end!

  9. northern princess

    June 16, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Ayo, i camped in dakingari as well. This made me laugh so much because just last week my sister and i almost fought because of akara. to think that we all learnt from the same woman oh.

    • Ayo Al

      June 16, 2017 at 9:58 am

      I’m glad you could relate, my Dakingari mate

  10. loma

    June 16, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    The proverb: Too many cooks spoil the broth, comes to mind.

    I learnt to cook exactly how my mum taught me, I didn’t question some of the processes until I left home. On one occasion I remember asking my mum ‘why do you cut the tip of the cow tongue?’ ‘Ehm…because it uses the tip to graze, woo that’s how your grandma did it don’t ask me question jor?’

    • Ayo Al

      June 16, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Hehehe…. Parents for you!

  11. Ui

    June 17, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    This doesn’t apply to women vs women only, I am a man, when I occasionally cook Afang and Edikankong soup for my mum because I know how to cook it and as a treat, she normally would want to direct me on how I cook the soup. For example she would want me to put locusts beans in it and I normally refuse to because it is not how I learnt how to make the soup and it is not even part of the ingredients for cooking afang and edikankong soup. The only time I added the locusts beans though, it tasted lovely but I have since stopped her from giving me directions when I am cooking.

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