May 21, 2018

Let me teach you how to KISS – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

Let me teach you how to KISS – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

Why does complex always seem better? why can’t we all just learn to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

What is wrong with uncomplicated simplicity? Why is something smarter because it is harder to unravel or understand? So, the fewer people that understand a person, the more intelligent that person is.

I once had a literature teacher. He obviously was not a Literature major. They probably handed over to him a curriculum and books to study and sent him to a class room of teenagers.

Impressing him was the easiest thing on earth.

All you had to do was write an aggregate collage of ubiquitous and verbose sentences (please ehn don’t bother trying to reason the tautology and the appropriateness of the use of the word ubiquitous) and you would score the highest points in the test or exam.

pounded-yam-egusi

It was as though: “If I can’t understand it, then it must be smart.”

I feel most people are that way. I personally know that I do not have enough time on earth to read sentences twice using a thesaurus (why did I not just say dictionary? Hian.)

You probably think that you know where I am going with this right?

WRONG!!!

From my intro, you have absolutely no idea that I want to talk about food.

What’s grammar got to do, got to do with it… (In a Tina Turner voice)

Nothing?

You are absolutely WRONG again.

If you think there is no connection between food and pompous use of language then you are just a person who eats food and not a foodie.

Or even you have never followed Masterchef Australia or followed the new generation food bloggers, instagrammars (get it? Instagram/grammar… some days I am just clever ‘toothy smiley here’)

Watch just one episode of Masterchef Australia and you will get it.

Judge: “So what do have for us today?”

Contestant: “ A slightly bruised and braised sweet and sour left kidney of a 1yr old duck with freshly plucked 8am sun kissed parsley leaves and 3 shavings of tropical mid rainy season mangoes and a drizzle of almost caramelized honey, lime and midnight avocado sauce.”

The bizarre things would be that:

  1. There are only two tiny mounds of food with a tiny leaf and some runny stuff zigzagged across it.
  2. The judge would nod in complete comprehension.

Hey, hold on:  they taste the food and then begin to explain what is right or wrong about the food.

For me, a typical Nigerian, you can only say a handful of things about food.

  1. Too much salt.
  2. Too little pepper (never too much)
  3. Tasteless
  4. Burnt or undercooked.

After these things, what else is there to say? Novice on food issues obviously, because there apparently is a lot to say.

Judge: “There is this balance between savoury and sweet that is at the perfect ratio of 4:1 that you were able to achieve. The surprising crunch of the leaf and the smooth texture of kidney worked in a way that I did not think was possible. And how about that kidney? Left kidneys take 3 seconds longer to cook than right kidneys and you totally pulled it off. This right here is a culinary masterpiece that could be served in the best Manhattan restaurants. Wow, the sensory overload… the insides of my cheeks are exploding.”

The contestant would go red (they are almost always white) and would preen in barely concealed conservative pleasure (not like Americans though, Americans would pump their fists in the air and deservedly celebrate success. The Aussies seem embarrassed at being so expressive.)

Before you think that this is an analysis of Masterchef Australia and start to wonder why I am doing this review, I will bring it right to your doorstep.

Did you recently see a cone shaped eba topped with Efo riro and a cube of beef at the top?

Or have you seen pounded yam folded like a sheet served with egusi in a champagne flute? (ok I am kidding it was not a champagne flute but at the rate these foodies are going, it’s a matter of time.)

Have you seen jollof rice set in a round bowl and placed on a plate with stalks of plantain cut out like chips and a leaf right at the top?

If the plating wasn’t complicated enough, then the captions are more than willing to finish up the job.

“Steamed black eyed bean pudding with a dash of habereno peppers, organic fresh ginger from an open market with a corn based solid custard served in banana leaves.”

Moimoi and Eko have developed scientific names folks.

”Spicy slow cooked Capra Aegagrus Hircus head, softened with potassium salt and seasoned with Monodora Myristica, bonnet peppers and garnished with Gongronema Latifolium”

*see glossary for interpretations

Isi Ewu people, Goat head o!

I have something against this but I kind of get it. Amala slapped on an aluminium bowl and drowned in ewedu and stew garnished with a lirrle bit (In Falz the bahdguy’s voice) kpomo, shaki and goatmeat is absolutely delicious no doubt but may not be an appealing introduction to Nigerian cuisine.

So in other words, wear coat and tie and give briefcase to Amala ati Ewedu. You know how your name is Nkemakonam and you go to the abroad and end up using the name you only saw on your birth certificate ‘Charles’ for the convenience of oyinbo tongue? Well, Amala ati Ewedu becomes:

“dusky dark cooked yam paste with jute leaves (corchorus olitorius… now what rhymes with olitorius? My autocorrect had an interesting suggestion…)   and tomato paste stewed in vegetable derived from the mesocarp of the oil palm kernels. “

And that is how foodies and Nigerian authors are taking away the sexy from our food.

I am miffed by the unnecessary long explanatory names given to Nigerian food for the benefit of non-Nigerians. No one goes through such lengths to explain their food in a caption (except for those food shows…).

Have you ever seen a western writer write “rich custard based dessert topped with a contrasting hard layer of caramelised sugar” instead of writing “Crème Brulee”?

These people talk about all kinds of stuff in their books and we have to Google to understand exactly what it is. While we, in contrast, have to hold their hands like they are toddlers and explain in sentences our foods and it is not even a cookbook.

If I ever write a novel, I will unrepentantly write Gbegiri and Shaki without explanations and certainly not in italics. Google is not just my friend, it works for oyinbo too.

How did I just fly off tangent? From poking fun at foodies to wagging my fingers at writers?

I need prayers…

Anyway, I love Nigerian food bloggers. Ditch the grammar but keep doing what you are doing. Making our food universally appealing and putting it on the map.

Shourrout to @Lagoshousewife (instagram) she is careful not to go into the deep end with her captions. And another shourrout to Kiwi Frozen Yoghurt, I do not know you personally but me and your Zobo flavoured yoghurt are having a heavily romantic love affair… (And thank you for not calling it any other name.)

 

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