Of soups, stews and sauces. When it comes to Nigerian dishes, are we really sure what it means to eat a stew, soup or a sauce? And the fact that every Yoruba person I have met calls what “we” Nigerians call soup a stew even confuses me more than anything else when it comes to this subject. Or may be it’s because most of the Yoruba dishes have either a tomato or a pepper base. Okay let me explain what I know a soup, stew and sauce to be. To most Nigerians, a stew is made up of tomatoes or peppers with assorted meats or fish; while a soup is anything like Egusi, Ogbono, Afang etc. A sauce is mostly curry like; with a meat or vegetable base. I nor know oh, na the one I sabi I talk oh. No ask me abeg 🙂
I remember going to the village for Christmas and my aunt; my dad’s sister would always make some mushroom soup for us. One time she made it and it was filled with sand and I don’t think any of us cared. It was a mixture of wild mush rooms, achi and azu okpo(dried fish). I used to like Achi, but these days I rather go with Ofor. Achi and Ofor are simply thickeners used by the Igbos for local soups.
During the holidays in the village, we hardly ate jollof rice. In fact the jollof rice was a light skinned concoction that was so sticky with no maggi. Omase o. Anyway, we always ate rice and stew and on very special occasions my mother would make a whole bag of fried rice because our cousins and pretty much the entire clan were always in our house. I remember my Dad’s Aunty Da’da Priscilla also known as Da’da Prisci. She sold Akara at Ukwu Ukwa(at the root of the bread fruit tree). She always brought some for me. Maybe I was her favorite Grand niece hehehehe(jk). I remember going to her house and watching her cook and my favorite times with her was whenever she gave me a bowl of Oha soup and a plate of Akpu (fermented cassava swallow). The Akpu was always so soft and it would slide down my throat with such ease. I miss her ukpaka and Ji’akwu(African salad)
My favorite times growing up was eating from a tray with my cousins. I also loved Wednesdays because it was jollof rice day. One time I made Nigerian jollof “supergetti”(spaghetti) and I added some syrup type of thing. I thought it was some kind of oyinbo seasoning o. I found out later that it was pancake syrup *coversface….I used pancake syrup to make pasta. New recipe for y’all *laughs
I also loved eating with my father. I used to sit by his feet and at the end of his meal, he would share his meat with me; as baby concerned na hehehe :). At some point, I was in charge of making my dad’s meals. He ate a lot of “oiless” okra and dry fish. I miss that part with everything in me. May God rest his soul.
I spoke to some friends and acquaintances to share their kitchen stories and some of them had this to say;
“Now that you made me think, not sure this is part of what you want, but I remember we (siblings) never liked eating together but will jump for joy if asked to eat with our mum. Now that I think about it, I don’t know why…LOL we eat from separate plates” ….Elsie
“I remember my mom cooking bitter leaf from 4pm-9pm and at the end of it…..it feels like you’re drinking alomo bitter(lol).I love you mum!”….Phina
Stare deep into her eyes
And you will see a whole continent
Made up of all shades of black
Groomed with a divine culture at heart.
I pondered a lot in my heart on perception of the beauty of Africa by the world at large, why is Africa, Africa? What makes it unique? What distinguishes it from other continents? Till it came to fore, that the diverse cultures, delicacies, resources and the people are what stands out this great continent from the European, and Asian continents.