One fateful night, my mother decided I would be the cook. So she asked me to make Amala. You should have seen my face. Me, Amala!!! ‘She knows how much I don’t like making Amala. So why would she do this to me?’ I thought. I stood looking at her for some minutes hoping she would change her mind when she sees I’m not smiling but this beautiful, petite (it’s cause of her I am short) mother of mine didn’t budge. So down to the kitchen I went to make a food I do not enjoy making though I love cooking. My love for cooking doesn’t extend to Amala and family.
I like my Amala soft and that was the kind of Amala I made but my mother clearly didn’t like her Amala like that. You should have seen her face; she was looking at me like I had committed a grave sin and actually, to a Yoruba woman, it is a grave sin. She complained about how I didn’t make the Amala well. She even complained about the quantity of soup I gave her and after talking and talking to her satisfaction and giving the eye Yoruba mothers are specialized in giving, she concluded with: “THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS COME TO THE KITCHEN WHEN I AM COOKING. YOU MUST WATCH HOW I AM DOING IT. YOU ARE A WOMAN AND YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW TO COOK. “…. Errr.. Excuse me? What of that tasteful stew I make that you can’t help but commend? What of my Jollof rice? My special spaghetti and some other dishes I make quite well? All are forgotten because of Amala? I didn’t say anything to her. I was just smiling and thinking of how unappreciative she was and I thought right, it’s probably the same way she feels when she gets something for me and I don’t appreciate it.
I really thought about it though and shared it with a friend… IS IT A MUST FOR WOMEN TO KNOW HOW TO COOK? Yes, it’s good to know your way around the kitchen as a woman because let’s face it, someday you might be a wife and a mother and even if you employ a cook, you still have to learn how to cook. I have watched too many Nigerian movies that have shown your maid can snatch your husband because she is always the one cooking his meal and we all know how men are drawn to food *side eye*. WHAT IF I CAN REALLY COOK SOME DISHES AND I AM NOT SO GOOD WITH SOME OTHERS? Does that make me less of a cook? I mean, I don’t really eat swallow. Infact, I make it once in a blue moon and who says I will end up marrying someone that likes Amala?! If I should get married to someone like Itoro who only eats rice and bread, what will be the use of my amala lessons? But then again, what if “the one” likes Amala a lot (that will just be a night mare. There will be special screening for that), my lessons won’t have been useless. I should still learn and what better way to learn than to watch her and practice ,after all practice makes perfect.
To improve in your field, you need to look at people in the same field that have been there for a longer time and are doing excellently well. Then ask them questions. You can only ask questions after observing and paying keen attention to what they are doing, how they are doing it and also by taking notes.
“Why did you take this particular step that ended up producing this great result?”
Ask the successful people and leading people in their fields for their stories and learn from them. From their success as well as their failure. Don’t be too proud to ask because you don’t know it all and you can always improve on what you know. That’s why it’s important you have mentors, teachers, good friends that you can always acquire knowledge from because whether or not you like it, someone will always be smarter than you and even if not smarter, someone will always know something you don’t know that makes the person successful and have good results. Children learn by imitation. If I say “ah”, you will hear my baby, Shikemi saying the same. So observe to be better. Then add that thing that makes you unique to your work and create your originality. It’s important you don’t copy word for word as it is sadly encouraged in Nigerian schools. Observe to learn. Apply what you have learnt but don’t copy word for word because that’s someone else’s’ originality and yours will only be a photocopy and will be less valuable. You have more than enough in you to yield originality.
I guess when I’m at home, I should really stay with my mum in the kitchen so I can observe how she makes some dishes and with practice, I might even be better than her because I don’t know what good my Amala making skill will bring me in future. I should stop saying I’m better than some of my friends like TOY in the kitchen and still learn. Honestly though, that talk of ‘you are a woman’ can be quite annoying. What if I don’t have a flare for cooking and my husband or brother is a better cook and enjoys doing it, should I kill myself?
Alright darlings, have a beautiful week. Keenly observe and apply what you have observed to be better. Ladies, please do share if you have gotten the ‘you are a woman; you should know how to cook’ talk in the comment box. If you have a Yoruba mother, there is no way you won’t have been given the talk more than once. So please share and guys if you have gotten similar talk feel free to share.0