By Hope Ukaegbu

So I have this beautiful memory about food with my grand mother. She didn’t always make food with all the necessary ingredients but with available ones. As a grown woman now, I’m still wondering how the food still always came out nice. 

My grandmother lived in the village. I, with my family, lived in the city of Lagos, far away- a full day’s journey from her, so we only ever got the opportunity to enjoy her cooking once in year. 

I remember the day she first made roasted yam. It was my first time of trying out that meal and I’ll never forget it. I was eleven and had just come home with my sisters from boarding school for Christmas. Mama wasn’t expecting us but she quickly found the foodstuff her hand could reach at that point. Luckily, it was yam (I’m yam obsessed). 

Within an hour, she had roasted it over the firewood, on that local grill thing they use in Nigeria to roast plantain.

She gave it to us, with a bowl of sauce to dip it in. I remember looking into the bowl thinking it was basic ground tomatoes sauce but was surprised when I saw that it was just red oil…with a lot of onions and ground fresh pepper in it. 

What is that? I asked myself quietly. I was a quiet child who didn’t really like to talk to anyone so I was too afraid to say what I was thinking. Which was good, cos at that point I was condemning the food. I was so picky with food that I was so sure I would not like the oil get up…but I was so hungry and there was nothing else to eat…and my sisters had wasted no time in starting to eat. I picked a piece of my yam with my bare fingers and dipped it into the sauce.

The first taste was mind blowing. You would never believe that something so plain and unattractive could actually taste so good. Since that day, I have never been able to refuse such a meal. I still eat even my boiled yams with sauce made from onions, fresh pepper and salt…even when I have enough resources to make something modern.

What is your earliest strongest memory about a certain food? Share with me.


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