I have been living on my own since my undergraduate days; this meant that I had to forcefully pick up cooking skills here and there. Though sometimes I suffered from bouts of diarrhoea as a result of my many concoctions, I never cared because I hadn’t poisoned myself as yet. My hungry friends through the years that have testified to my great cooking skills should have been held responsible though had any such mishap occurred, most notably Obi Nwankwo and Chuks Udealor. Obi in particular because of his uncanny habit of waking me up early on Saturdays in my apartment in Düsseldorf with a bag full of cow tongue which he claims he receives on special order, whatever made him to believe that I was an expert in cooking cow tongue never ceased to amaze me, but as a good friend I would usually oblige him.
I used to chop the damned thing into small chunks and mix it all up with any spice in view; the things people cook, and eat, yuck! During winter Obi added another dimension and began to sanctify and glorify the spicy and peppery water used in cooking the cow tongue, he named the ‘delicacy’ tongue and tongue water and often times invited his girls over to my apartment for some tongue and tongue water sampling. Don’t ask me why and how, but they came.
Okay, count the fact that I grew up in the house of a world class cook – my mum (Amaka), who also trained some able lieutenants in my two younger sisters (Chinyere and Ifeyinwa) and you may run away with the impression that I had it all going for me but no. You see, I read James Hadley Chase and Nick Carter as a youngster, as well as the Enid Blyton and Mills and Boons romance series. I was hooked on Chase not because I was looking for murder tips but because I was looking for toasting lines. At university I became hooked on Sidney Sheldon and Jackie Collins as well as the other thriller and crime cappers in the genre of Frederick Forsyth, Jeffrey Archer and Robert Ludlum, why won’t I? Tony Montana idolised crime and it was okay and fashionable at the time to be seen as a ‘bad guy’, you would find me these days though reading John Grisham and Dan Brown.
You can never guess my famous line from all these books, it was the one that got me into trouble, and led to my banishment from Dr. Nkereuwem Udoakah’s news reporting class for almost half a semester, I can’t remember exactly from which one of the novels it was but I had just received it the previous night from Sunny Ogbu, another connoisseur and was kept late from sleeping by the sheer beauty of the storyline which I ferociously devoured. Not only did I wake up late the next morning but I also came late for Dr Udoakah’s 9.00 AM lecture, a mortal sin in those days.
Being already lost since I didn’t start the day’s lecture with everybody, I found comfort in the novel that turned out to be the architect of my day’s troubles, another mortal sin. I cleverly balanced the novel in – between my lecture notes and pretended to be taking down notes while my eyes darted from one paragraph to the other. I don’t know how best to describe how I felt in the middle of Dr. Udoakah’s lectures when I discovered the lines which in today’s world could be likened to one deciphering the Da Vinci code.
I almost felt like a school boy having his first orgasm and in my excitement quickly wrote down the lines, it went something like this – to keep women in line, you have got to buy them plenty, xxxx them regularly and beat them occasionally. Since one doesn’t come across such earth shattering creeds everyday, I thought it wise to share the sage’s words of wisdom with my fellow soldiers in the class, I quickly duplicated the quote and successfully forwarded it to two of them, however the message got intercepted by Dr. Udoakah as it made its way to the third recipient. He asked me to stand up and requested that I come to the front of the class; he made me read the quote before the whole class to an outburst of embarrassing laughter. Afterwards I received marching orders not to come anywhere within a 10 metres radius of his subsequent lectures.
As a veteran of quotes taken from novels as punch lines to pull members of the opposite sex, none ever worked better than the ones which I used extensively during my bachelor days, the famous of which was my oft used one liner, an offer or invitation to any unsuspecting female prey to stop by my pad for a taste of my cooking, honed in by my dear mum. Such proposals usually would be made early on or after a few dates depending on a combination of factors. This usually worked although I sometimes wondered if they were just coming for the food which usually never gets cooked as other things got in the way (you know what), or for something else.
Anyway, part of the problem with lying to oneself is that at some point one actually starts to believe the lie. All these years I have always thought that I could cook hence the difficulties I have had in surrendering full ownership of the kitchen to Uche. Every other day, you would find me running around the kitchen like Ainsley Harriot of the Ready, Steady Cook fame pretending to be at home with the sacred and peculiar surroundings. She has never complained, whether out of love or convenience and would gladly praise all my kitchen endeavours.
However, after a recent experience involving a Saturday morning fajita wrap, I have come to the conclusion that there is no use wasting my time in there, better commit that time to other beneficial family endeavours, maybe cleaning, laundry or attending to some urgent home DIY tasks. You see, I thought I was the king of fajita wraps around the house and she has let me fool myself all along leaving that department to me, however as I sat huddled over the computer that morning staring at the blank screen hoping and wishing that it would throw up some new plot ideas for my forthcoming book, she brought in two wraps of fajita which I should really be patenting and selling to Tantalizers or Mama Cass.
I discovered another one of my deficiencies as a man after devouring the two, if I am truthful to myself, I should just hang up my wrapper (sorry apron) and surrender the kitchen to her finally. Surely there must be such a thing as tactical kitchen withdrawal syndrome (TKWS); I should remember to ask my GP for any known cure during my next visit.