I remember watching (on days when I visited someone who had a television) Iyabo Lawani on Maggi Family Menu conjuring up delicacies in her kitchen; mouth watering soups, all kinds of rice meals and the rare intercontinental dish.
She liked using plenty of meat and fish and ‘assorted’.
How did I know the meals were mouth watering? I knew from the expression on her face when she tasted the food. It was an unabashed ‘this food is so sweet and all is well with the world’ expression. I think it is one of the things that set me on the path of being a foodie. That and the fact that I just like to eat; eez a natural something.
In the later shows, before she stopped anchoring them, she started inviting others to cook, both Nigerians and foreigners. And my beloved expression took on a new dimension. I could tell when she didn’t like the food. She smiled and said the right words, but mehn you could just tell this wasn’t it at all.
Like the time some women from one Island nation came and cooked rice with okro, whole okro, as in they didn’t chop them, just dropped the thing inside the pot of almost done rice.
By then I had started watching other cooking shows and trying to see if I could tell when the food wasn’t quite it but as a host or guest you couldn’t fall hand na.
I got invited to a cooking show. Yes, me! As a guest to come and taste whatever the chef of the day, who happens to be my friend, cooked. I mean, it was food, free food. Of course I said yes. And there my problem began. You see, I have one of those faces that react even before whatever it is registers in my brain. If I eat something that is not sweet, you will know. I cannot even pretend.
I agonized about it. I practiced my ‘this tastes amazing’ face. I considered cancelling.
So there I was, having my face beat (the makeup artist practically beat my face into shape/submission) and I could hear and see my friend, Patience, adding all sorts of ingredients to the meal. There was all the usual vegetable suspects: spring onions, green pepper, chili; saying “The Irish potatoes will soon be done” (I don’t like Irish potatoes outside of chips) and “Let’s add a bit of ground cinnamon” (I have never to my knowledge had cinnamon and my only experience of it was watching youtube videos of the cinnamon challenge); and in my mind as far as I was concerned, I was finished.
See what my longa-throat had gotten me into.
Before I knew it I was being ushered onto the set and hugging Patience and saying how nice it was to be invited and I couldn’t wait to taste the food (forgive me, Lord). I was handed a fork and . . .
It was sweet. I almost cried in relief. I didn’t have to fake it. The stir fry with shrimps was tasty and balanced the Irish potatoes. I ate as much as I could before they chased me off the set, which was like two minutes later.
I have learnt my lesson. I doubt I will ever get invited to another food show after writing this (real tears) but if I am, I have a foolproof plan to make sure I don’t fall your hand. #warrinodeycarrylast
TASTE BUDS airs on R2TV (Comsat) on Saturdays at 4pm with a repeat on Tuesdays at 2pm.
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