One of the things I love about Nigeria is food. I kid you not. On Friday, I had this amazing, turn your head around, ruin your diet, sell your birthright type of amala with gbegiri and ewedu soup that can only come from Ibadan. That kind of food is appealing enough, but that is a post for another day. Today, I’m talking about those seasonal foods that leave you in paradise for short periods of time in the year.
If you are not aware, let me inform you that mango season typically has grown men and women acting like children without basic knowledge of cutlery use. I’m happy to be the example in this case. You see, when I balance that sherry mango in my hand, lead it to my mouth and begin to suck the very soul out of it, my face all messed up with the juice, with some of the juice also decorating my clothes, my fulfilment knows no bounds. Or do you want me to explain the joy in my heart whenever plantain is in season again? Have you ever had good roasted plantain, popularly known as boli? For me, the perfect boli is firm on the outside and soft on the inside, like a person who has a standoffish attitude due to a broken heart, but still retains their softness when you can penetrate their defences. That is how I like my boli. I don’t like it soft all the way. It’s perfect when it’s firm and soft at the same time. Of course, it is a crime if you don’t pair that boli with roasted groundnut.
Another seasonal food that is making the rounds now is corn and African pear, commonly called ube. Now I must confess, I’m not a huge fan of corn for several reasons (please don’t smash your phone or computer screen in an attempt to stone me). First reason is fit fam, I just think corn is equal to carbs, see they even both start with “C”. I take that back, that’s a bit lame. Also, I almost choked to death while eating corn once, because the corn was too hard, and I haven’t quite figured out the technique for selecting good roasted corn. I can handle boiled corn, but roasted corn is for my bosses.
For me, the fantastic part about corn season is the ube.
“Ode to the ube,
Ube my ube,
Joy arrives at the sight of your purple fingers,
Long after I am finished, your taste lingers.”
Yup, I burst into poem for ube! Oh boy, I just love it. Sometime last week, after work, I was driving around like a crazy person in search of ube. I eventually bought about 300 Naira worth and that was my dinner. I have tried but always fail to successfully describe the taste of ube, it is just pure goodness. If you think I am over exaggerating, then it means you have not seen the pictures of a lovely and down to earth couple that stopped to buy ube and corn in their wedding garb (see how I put the ube before the corn! lol.) There is real evidence of this.
There’s this thing about me, I think a lot. Without trying, I theorise things. Linking it to this and that and reaching grand conclusions in my mind. So I was driving my mum the other day and from random thoughts about how we have different foods in different seasons, I started thinking about the various seasons of my life.
I vividly remember that for the first few years when I started driving, driving my mother was like facing judgement. “Mariam, easy easy. Slow down oh!” or “Didn’t you see the pothole?” I am sure more than once, I told her to please come and drive the car if she was not satisfied with my driving. Yesterday, as we were heading home after a long day of driving around town, I actually realised that she said absolutely nothing about my driving. She made no comments, no positive or negative comment. You see, this is not because my driving was good, because honestly, I’m a bit of a rough driver, but because I had grown into the season of life where she believes I can make better judgments and I don’t need her guidance for driving anymore. Driving was just like breathing, there was no need for her to monitor it anymore. The season when she needed to watch my every gear change had expired, and I have now entered a season where it’s a given that I know how to handle myself, on the road at least. That was a wild tangent shey, from food to driving to growth. I warned you about my mind when I started this website didn’t I ? There is evidence oh, see it here .
You see, this was another rare moment where I recognised that seasons had changed and I had grown, not in terms of my driving, but in terms of my relationship with my mother and the way the dynamics have evolved from a relationship with a pimply teenager that needed constant guidance (I actually wasn’t that pimply to be honest) to a relationship with a semi-adult (leave me alone, I’m not quite ready to adult yet). One season has passed and another has started. I thought this recognition was absolutely beautiful and I was itching to share. This is sort of like a diary session post. The kind I will read ten years down the line and smile. It’s a “Mariam the human post” so bear with me.
What seasonal foods do you absolutely adore? Have I forgotten to mention them? (I just remembered garden egg now.)
Have you also had one of those moments when you recognise your growth or an evolution in a relationship? Please share, I am always happy to read from you!
Amala with Gbegiri and Ewedu- A dish made from yam flour, beans and vegetables and popular among the Yoruba people of Nigeria. See it here.
Boli- A colloquial Nigerian expression for roasted plantain. See Dobby’s Signature’s amazing boli here .
Ube- A type of pear native to Africa. See yet again Dobby’s Signature’s take on ube here .
P.S. I’m officially crushing on Dobby’s Signature right now.
P.P.S Special thanks to Mr. Ibe, the groom in these photos who graciously granted me permission to use these pictures less than 24 hours after I contacted him.