So it was Enyi’s turn to cook yesterday. She wanted to boil yam but I wanted to eat spaghetti, so she did as I asked. Like many of the TP (Teaching Practice) students and other staff, she chose not to eat, saving enough space to load the food that was going to be shared in the meeting we have on Fridays. As for me, I ate, two plates of hot and spicy spaghetti. I mean, what if the cook forgot and food was not going to be shared? I was not going to put all my eggs in one basket abeg. And if the world really came to an end as expected today, I wasn’t going to heaven hungry!
The meeting went well, and the food did arrive: vegetable stew and white rice, with beef. Enyi and I joined in serving the food. Enyi was not particularly hungry and I had eaten already, so we shared a plate of rice. There was only one piece of meat on the rice, being that it was originally served for one. Enyi has this weird idea that food without meat is worthless and meat without food is inappropriate, so when we were done eating, she went to the cook and asked for some more rice also explaining that we had shared a plate with only one meat so she should add one more for us. This woman said there was no meat left in the stew.
When Enyi got back, I knew that the cook lied to her. So I waited for her to serve the remaining people.
“No be meat be that?” I asked Enyi pointing with my eyes at the piece of meat on the newly served plate of rice the cook was handing over to another staff. Enyi was weak, she immediately lost her appetite. So I asked her to take the piece of meat on our plate. She refused, said the woman had embarrassed her for nothing. I too was resolved not to eat that meat. So we finished the rice and kept the plate where others were keeping theirs, with the meat on it.
So, two things: first, hoarding of meat is real in Nigeria! It is real business, I tell you! I know two women back at home who are always put in charge of meat in weddings. These women know how to look you in the eye and tell you there is no meat when you are looking at meat with the two both of your eyes.
Secondly, I do not particularly place too much importance on meat in food. My favourite cousin does not eat food without meat, at least let there be boiled egg if worse gets to worst. Me, I was raised in a home where meat was for special occasions only. We managed with dried fish and one spoonful of crayfish!
But yesterday, when that woman spoke to me, this was me: