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eko ilĂŠ The Preview Issue

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The Food Issue

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Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Note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

S. Araoye ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!!!!!!!!!


!"#$%&'!

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! We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are

! ! F!B*'//'!<%&04>!)*+,-+-.)-/+!

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B/.(6!3$'!G%,>

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I ATE…

A memoir of the foods I savoured

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! Cooking was my first act of rebellion; by learning to

I became a cooking novelty. My older

cook, I could free myself from the bondage of the

cousins would taste the food gingerly for the

caretakers who refused to feed me what I really

fear that I might have produced poison but as

wanted. The first meal I made myself, at age 8, was

the hits grew so did their trust. The offer of

amala. I had been craving amala the whole day and

freshly made pasta was readily accepted and

when dinnertime came, I was served some other

requests began to come in. I really loved

alternative (I can’t remember now). I remember clearly

cooking; I loved having other people enjoy

going down to the kitchen and putting a pot of hot

the food I made. I learned to tweak recipes,

water on the stovetop. I gingerly took down the pot of

like the steamed egg custard messed around

hot water on the floor and proceeded to dump in amala

with until I got the whole dish sweet instead

flour while stirring vigorously as I had observed others

of having a syrupy puddle at the bottom of

do. I can’t remember now how good that first meal was

the bowl.

but I can remember how I savoured my first reach to

As I hit my teens, I started baking too. For

freedom.

my thirteenth birthday, I requested a canister

As I grew older, my love of food grew. I began to

of gas as a gift so that I could operate the

experiment with recipes I gleaned watching British

oven whenever I wanted. My baking was

food programmes. I remember clearly the exuberance

restricted to the pound cake and warming up

of watching Ainsley Harriot on Ready,Steady,Cook and

smoked guinea fowl. I also learned to make a

wondering what crazy meal he was going to create

proper Yorkshire pudding. I loved the way

from the ingredients. I learned a lot about the joy of

that Yorkshire pudding would swell in the

minimalism in cooking from watching Jamie Oliver in

oven and then collapse when it hit cold air.

the Naked Chef. As I watched more food TV, I started

The changes that happened in the oven

experimenting beyond my daily foods. I started with

seemed so much like alchemy to my

making pasta from scratch. To the household members, !

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fascinated eyes. (cont’d)!

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!"#$%&'!

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H! !


! ! !

!

! ! I never took to baking because it was too restrictive

I suffered from countless fainting spells and learnt

for me; I enjoyed the freedom of not having to plan

to hold myself as I felt the burn of acid landing on

ahead with cooking. Baking seemed a bit too much

an empty stomach.

for me. One of my favourite moments in school

When I was sixteen, I moved to the US. It was not

was taking foods and nutrition. I loved the class

my first time in the country but it was the first time

practical. During my penultimate year in secondary

I knew I could create a new life for myself. One of

school, I took part in a cooking competition in

the first food obsessions was the BBQ chicken on a

school. I made my specialty at that point, obe oniru

bun from KFC. I could devour multiple sandwiches

(locust beans sauce) and rice. I had to pack all my

in one sitting and savour the way the sweetness of

cooking utensils as well as the ingredients from

the brown sugar in the BBQ gave way to the

home. I took a green kerosene stove to cook and

vinegar. Every once in a while, I would grow bored

two tall black buckets. One bucket to act as a

and eat the crispy chicken wrap instead. On

depository for used water and the other as a storage

Sundays, I would eat a two-piece extra crispy

for fresh water. I remember being nervous at the

chicken meal with a side of mac ‘n’ cheese and

pressure of being one of four contestants. I was so

coleslaw. Freedom really came in my second year

nervous I forgot to season the food with salt. Alas,

when I started driving because I could venture

that would be my downfall.

further and go to the sandwich shops. I loved going

Through my tween years, I had an idea that I

to Quiznos and Subway. My order at Subway was

wanted to cook for a living. Specifically, I had the

always the baked chicken on a loaf of honey oats

idea that I wanted to challenge the Mr. Bigg’s

with a drizzle of the sweet onion teriyaki sauce and

establishment with a restaurant called Miss

lashings of vegetables.

Small’s.

As I grew closer to making a career

Then I read Food Nation and realised that I needed

choice, I had the idea I wanted to study a food

to be more conscious of what I was eating. It

related course. In my early teenage years, I fell out

became a challenge for me to eat more vegetables

of love with food. For a number of years, all I can

and

remember eating is pancakes with a squeeze of

distinctively the first time I tasted a crisp strip of

lemon and a dash of sugar. I also had an affinity for

red bell pepper. I loved the cold juiciness of water

rice. My main thing was eating food that I could

that dripped into my mouth. I felt back in love with

not feel sitting in my tummy.

food in that moment. For me, my second

As I rode the wave of my early teens into the late

infatuation with food has been characterized by my

teens with adulthood just around the bend, I still

need to explore; to see more, to feel more.

struggled with my dislike of food. I knew logically

The summer after my second year, I got a job at the

that I had to eat but the psychical act of eating

mall working for Ben and Jerry’s at an ice-cream

began to escape from me. For about 3 years of my

scoop shop. During my rare evening shift, I would

life, I lost the ability to tell if I was hungry or not.

!

learn

more

about

food.

I

remember

order a pizza from the California Pizza Kitchen. !!!!!!!!!!


!"#$%&'! ! ! I would order a steak pizza served with a side of

! and olives at a formal dinner event. I also learned

green chilli salsa. At the end of my shift, I would

to love the Korean BBQ that was served at the

buy an ice-cream sandwich from the store. The

farmers’ market in school.

ice-cream sandwich was two large chocolate chip

One of routines in school was watching Good Eats

cookies with a scoop of vanilla heath bar crunch

on Food Network, featuring the chef Alton Brown.

ice-cream. Driving home on the I-15, I would

Watching Brown cooking really allowed me to

slowly unwrap the sandwich cellophane and take a

learn the basics of cooking I did not know I was

gingerly bite. The best thing about the sandwich

lacking. I learned the proper way to hold a knife

was discovering large chunks of heath bar and

firmly at the handle so that I don’t hurt myself. I

chewing on it to get the slightly toffee flavour.

learned what knives what best with different

Summers living in California were such a blessing

ingredients. I learned how to make an omelette by

because of the abundance of different types of

not over-whisking it and stirring gently in the pan

food. One of my fondest moments is visiting an

until the egg set. I watched him make ice-cream

apple farm in the agricultural belt. The syrupy taste

and learned why churning slowly produced a

of freshly squeezed apple juice is something that

smoother ice-cream by distributing the ice-

still tingles off on my tongue. The apple pies

molecules more evenly. Outside of Alton Brown, I

looked

also watched the likes of Paula Deen who turned

comical,

packed

so

high

like

an

architectural sculpture, but tasted so divine when

cooking into a theatrical experience.

cooked with apple so soft they tasted like jam on

In between my junior and senior year of college, I

bread. I remember going to the farmers’ market

decided to study in England for the summer. Over

and buying different assortment of vegetables to

the summer, I became friends with a couple of

try. Google became a cooking resource for me.

Jewish guys from New York studying abroad like

rd

During my 3 year of my degree, I was living in

myself at the University of Sussex. I also became

an apartment with a full kitchen, and that really

friends with a vegetarian, as well as a Pakistani

gave me the freedom to dig in deep into food. I

girl. Together, we formed what I can only call an

became a real lover of food who disdained fast

eating group. Our social activities revolved around

food and really took joy in putting in time to cook.

tasting foods in the Brighton area. The strip of

Because

intercultural

curry shops did not escape our attention as we

environment, I had the chance to teach others

sampled all different variations of the delicacy. We

about my food heritage by teaching them how to

also indulged in proper British meals, visiting

make gbegiri - a beans stew that I love so much. I

quaint cottages that served proper scones and

also got to learn about other foods I had never had

clotted cream. We had night excursions to the local

the gall to try. I ordered my steak pink because I

fish and chips shop, and learned to dump loads of

learned that it preserved the juiciness of the meat

malt vinegar on the battered fish to get a delicious

I

was

living

in

an

more. I discovered Israeli couscous with raisins ! ! I! !

!

sour and salty taste. After afternoons (cont’d)!


! ! ! !

!

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! !!!!!!!!!!


!"#$%&'! ! ! strolling in and out of the shops on the Brighton

! As the summer came to an end, I remembered that

Pier, we made a habit of stopping at a pasty shop.

there was one more item of food I had to eat before

We ate our way through the menu board sampling

leaving England. I took a train from Sussex into

the vegetable patsy, the cheese patsy, and the beef

Brighton just for the opportunity to try a trifle. I

with potato patsy among many others.

was keen on trying the trifle because I had watched

On Fridays, we took to volunteering at a farm for

countless programs on BBC Food growing up on

the community. On the first day we arrived, we did

making trifle. Watching the TV chefs beat

not think we were going to last at the farm with the

whipping cream and layer cakes in vast dishes and

smell of the compost in the air and the flies buzzing

layer fruits had whetted my appetite. I remember

about. However, as we got to digging troughs in the

eating the trifle I bought from Marks and Spencer’s

ground and replacing netting in the greenhouse

at the Brighton rail station. I savoured the way the

area, we loved that we were helping grow food. It

cake in the trifle seemed to have soaked up the

did not hurt either that each time we visited, we

syrup from the berry compote. I licked the spoon of

were rewarded with raspberries picked straight off

every bit of cream. I knew I had to come back to

the vine, and cutting off herbs to cook with during

England, if only for the food I had experienced.

the week. On our final Friday visiting, we got

In my 4th year, I lived in a house as the only non-

treated to a feast. The highlight of the final meal

Asian girl. I lived with a Taiwanese, a Japanese and

was a giant courgette doused in oil and wrapped in

a Chinese. I fell in love with the Asian food and

tin foil then covered in burning coal to roast. The

learned to use chopsticks properly. I also

flesh of the courgette was so soft and melted in the

discovered new treats like mochi, a frozen ice-

mouth from all the heat. It was one of the best

cream treat encased in a doughy rice batter.

meals I had ever had.

Although I was used to eating rice, there is

At the hostel where we stayed, the eating group

something comforting about eating rice made in a

was rare in that we actually used the kitchen

rice cooker. The short grain rice made in the cooker

provided. The eating group had a tradition of

would be starchy, and popping clumps in my

bringing over food items, usually vegetables, to

mouth was strangely addictive. I would cook rice in

cook. As the designated cook, I found myself

the cooker and get a stir-fry made with peanut

making stir-fry for about 8 people. I learned the

sauce from the school café. In the privacy of my

best way to make vegetarian sausages without

room, I would clump up the rice in the palms of my

drying them out. We howled with laughter as one

hand and dip the balls in the peanut sauce. One of

of the Jewish guys presented us with a frozen

my flatmates and I used to go to one of the campus

spotted dick to cook one night. And we all took

café that served Vietnamese food. I became

turns pulling the kitchen napkins as we tried to

conversant in ordering pho in the winter and biamn

drain water from shredded potatoes in an attempt to

mi in the spring and early summer. I loved the

make latkas, Jewish potatoes. ! J! !

!

gentle heat of the chilli in the food.


! ! !

!

! ! My final year in university was the year I really

day; I love their frozen gnocchi in a tomato sauce.

took to the oven. It was the year the white

At the same time, I discovered a creperie in a store.

chocolate Toblerone cheesecake became my

I started eating a burrata (a cheese made by

specialty. It was the year I made loads of polenta

combining mozzarella) and cream and roasted

cheese crackers. It was also the year I perfected my

tomato crepe as a quick meal.

roast chicken breast, served with a side of

In late 2007, I started working at a firm in

homemade vegetable red curry. It was the year of

downtown San Diego and started training for a

learning to cook tofu and discovering my love for

summer 2008 marathon. It was a period where I

vegetarian corndogs. It was the year my fridge was

had to be aware of what I was putting in my mouth.

stocked with countless varieties of hummus

When the training started, I ate a lot of vegetables

because it was the one thing everyone in the

to help me lean out as I tried to increase my fitness.

household could eat, spread on a piece of baked

I used to do a packed lunch of oven-roasted

tortilla. It was the year of eating several varieties of

asparagus with couscous salad. I also loved a lunch

cheese we loved with polenta crackers, while

of green beans wrapped in a spicy tomato sauce and

sitting around the living room.

grilled chicken breast. I took to cooking wild rice

One of my comfort spots was the Whole Foods

because I loved the nuttiness. For the first time in

store near my campus. I used to walk down to the

my life, I learned to enjoy breakfast and found

store on Sundays at noon. At the store, I would get

myself eating oatmeal. My favourite breakfast ever

a thin-crust pizza that would be warmed up in the

is a bowl of oatmeal with raw walnuts and a dash

stone oven. I loved the way the bottom of the pizza

of brown sugar topped with a scoop of yogurt.

crust would be crunchy but the top would be so

As the marathon grew closer and the spring came, I

sweet with tomato sauce and just a touch of

had to eat more calorie dense food to fuel my

mozzarella and heaps of dried chilli flakes as well

training. At a café close to the office, I found

as Parmesan shavings. During the spring and

myself regularly ordering a chicken chilli with a

summer seasons, Whole Foods served fruit pizza.

side of Parmesan baked tortilla chips. Late spring, I

This would be a slightly sweeter crust topped with

injured my foot and that put an end to all training.

mascarpone cheese sweetened with a bit of sugar

Wrapped up in a funk of disappointment, I turned

layered with fruits like apple or berries.

to eating tubs of Starbucks cookies and coffee ice-

After I completed my degree, I moved to an

cream. On the day of the marathon, I got a visit

apartment in San Diego. For a while, I worked as a

from my father who took me out to lunch. Looking

shop assistant at a mall. I slowly started ordering a

at the menu, my father first requested ceviche, a

chilli cheeseburger from Red Robin’s, a chain

raw fish salad dressed in lime juice and oil, but I

burger joint. At home, I started eating a lot of food

was not up to eating that. Instead, I remember

from Trader Joe’s. Their food is perhaps the only

eating loads of fried calamari with a crunchy batter

brand of frozen food I can eat comfortably till this !

!

shell for the first time. !!!!!!!!!!


!"#$%&'! ! ! As the summer approached, I was transplanted

! I was excited to eat at Nandoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because I had only

once more to England, specifically Manchester. I

been able to eat there when I was in Lagos visiting.

arrived in Manchester a week before my birthday.

! ! ! !

For my first week, I ate nothing but Tesco

As I settled into Manchester, I discovered a store

sandwiches. I alternated between the roast beef

by my apartment that carried Nigerian food. I

sandwich and the tuna with sweet corn sandwich.

found that I really loved eating Indomie noodles. I

As the week progressed, I got lethargic from

also indulged in countless bottles of Maltina. I

constant sandwiches. Then my birthday weekend

remember stocking up on Ribena and Milo like it

arrived, along with my sister who took me

was going out of production. In a lot of ways, I felt

shopping for kitchen utensils. I was so excited to

I was rediscovering a part of me I had given up

finally be able to cook. But first there was the

because I was eating foods from my childhood on a

matter of the birthday dinner. !

!

regular basis again.

!

! ! ! KL! !


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!"#$%&'!

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!"#$%&'! !

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Eko Ile  

A magazine focused on the experience of the living in Lagos, Nigeria

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