I’m not someone who’s very picky about what I eat. I can go days eating just bread with water before going to bed at night. An aunt used to say my wife would be lucky because she would not have to worry about preparing something for me to eat every night. I counter with “a bachelor is different from a married man, expectations are different.”
I know people who can’t survive a week without eating garri while I can go a year without it and not even miss it. Sad I know. On my first week away from Nigeria, my flat mate decided he wanted to eat Garri and Egusi soup. He had never prepared egusi soup prior to this day. So he called up wifey and asked for instructions on how to prepare it. Halfway through the preparation of his delicacy, wifey stopped answering the phone; this soup was now about to win the award for the worst soup ever. He decided to call his mum and she walked him through to the end… soup saved.
Two or three years ago my cooking skill set included cooking beans, fried plantain aka dodo (how does anyone screw that one up?), fried eggs, indomie (a bachelor needs his instant noodles) and preparing a pot of stew. Definitely a cooking dummy but better than most men. At the time, the solution to the problem of wanting to cook something new was easy, ‘Call mum’.
I decided to prepare something new, fried rice instead of always eating rice with stew, noodles and cereals. So I did what any good son would do, I called up mum to get the magic recipe. I was told to get the usual ingredients I imagined I would be getting and some more. I wasn’t really expecting ‘the more’ part though. Now this was an international call so I definitely wasn’t going to argue about whether my fried rice needed to have boiled liver in it or not.
Mum: Then get some liver and boil it with your chicken. When it’s ready, cut it into tiny pieces and put it in the rice after you’ve added the vegetables.
Me: Yes mum
Mum: You should be able to find ground nutmeg in one of the shops there.
Me: Yes mum
While she was speaking the voice in my head was saying ‘I just want fried rice to eat, I’m not hosting the Queen’. I didn’t even know then I could actually get ground nutmeg at Tesco.
There’s an easier way though, if your mum’s recipe isn’t that important to you. I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled on Lohi’s Creations. I think it was one of those days I dropped into the Twitter black hole moving from one trending topic to another and from one timeline to the next.
A friend once told me that one thing Nigerian foods suffer from is presentation. I think most of the time we don’t care that much how the food looks. We are more concerned with how it tastes. This is something the lady at Lohi’s Creations deals with incredibly well. The presentation side of the dishes that is, I can’t vouch for the taste of the food just yet. Scratch that, I know her food tastes better than it looks.The presentation of the dishes just makes them look so enticing and expensive. Food you would be willing to pay ten times what it cost to prepare.
I sent some questions to Lohi hoping to get some quotes to use on this post but the response I got back was so good I decided to reproduce it here in its entirety. I know you all will enjoy reading it as much as I did. She also provided the pictures. Yea I know she takes great pictures too.
How did you learn to cook so well?
I learned to cook from watching my mother first and when I got bored of my Nigerian food repertoire I learned to cook other meals from the multiple blogs I follow and cookbooks. I think cooking is something that I naturally enjoyed so I just experimented a lot and luckily most times the results were impeccable.
What made you decide to start blogging about the preparation of Nigerian dishes?
I had been reading food blogs for a while and realized I did not know any Nigerian food blog. I had a personal blog back then and I would post pictures once in a while of food and would always get asked for the recipe. I decided to start a food blog because it was something I felt was needed. People were not used to proper pictures of Nigerian food and I felt my blog would be a way for other people excluding Nigerians to be introduced to Nigerian food.
You seem to care about the presentation as much as the taste of the dishes. Is there a reason why?
I have always been someone that eats with my eyes first before my mouth. I love when I see plates that you can tell some thought went into how it came together on the plate. That is the real reason why I also try to put in some kind of effort with my presentation and photography. I also feel the reason the international community has stayed away from Nigerian and dare I say African food for so long was because they always saw it as a “mess” with copious amounts of oil and other things that make it not so pleasing to the eye. Since one of my dreams is to help put Nigerian food on the map, I decided to use the same model as the countless international blogs I read and showcase Nigerian food at its best.
What kind of feedback have you been getting from your readers? Can you give an example we can quote that really touched you?
I get a lot of feedback from my readers. I spend at least 2 hours every week replying emails about feedback and that is a lot! There is one that touched me a lot recently though. I would not be able to give a name because this person is somewhat known but I can for sure forward you the message she sent me 🙂
“So. This is not out at ALL but I’m getting married. My husband to be is a Naija man and though he’s progressive and sweet and amazing, he still has that “I wish she would cook for me sometime” feeling. I’ve put it off because I can barely cook American food without a recipe (I’m awesome with recipes) not to talk about the complicated, no recipe Nigerian food that NOBODY can tell me how to make. They just say, “Watch and pick it up, well I have ADD… so…”
I just got back from 6 weeks in Nigeria on Friday and was feening for ekpang. I didn’t think I was going to make it but was wondering what the odds were that there would be a recipe online and what popped up first? YOUR BLOG!!! And I’ve been sitting here going through it and I’m like “Wow. I can actually use this blog to cook for Txxx a few times. We won’t make it a habit but it can actually occur.”
You’ve absolutely just made my day. It probably won’t taste as good as yours looks but now I can feel confident in the kitchen without my mother hovering or me having anxiety thinking I’m doing it all wrong. Seriously, if you do a “for Naija Girls Who Have Considered KFC When The Egusi was Not Enough” series, I promise you mad people would swarm. This non-cooking Naija woman shame will be buried.
Your blog, I already loved reading it, now it’s going to help my future marriage. AFTER the wedding, I will do a public testimonial but since I’m not being public with the engagement, I wanted to send you a quick note.
This touched me a lot. To feel like I was helping a Nigerian-American make it in her marital home is such a blessing to me. It’s one of the reasons I started to blog.
All the photographs were provided by Lohi’s Creations. You can find out more about Lohi’s Creations at her website http://lohiscreations.com/ or connect with her on social media using the links below: