As a teenager, I always heard the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. I believed it. What I didn’t realize at that time was that the food had to taste good to get there. When Uncle IK and his newly wedded wife became my aunt’s next door neighbors, they took a special liking to me and I made the mistake of bragging about my cooking prowess. I don’t know what I was thinking, offering to give both of them a moimoi treat.
My aunt had travelled out of town and left me behind.
I decided on moimoi cos I thought it was going to come out as good as the one they sold in Mr Biggs. I had never watched any one prepared moimoi, I was only certain it was a product of grounded beans and wrapped leaves (poor people moimoi) or wrapped nylon (average people moi moi) or wrapped foil paper (rich people moimoi) or plastic packaged (very rich people moimoi).
Market days in our town fell on Saturdays and Wednesdays. It was a Saturday and the timing was just perfect for my deed. I told Uncle IK not to interrupt me that I was going to invite him and his wife over the next morning.
That Saturday afternoon, I took all my pocket-money which totaled at N200 and raced to the market to get everything I needed. Not one naira was left when I got back. After spending three hours separating the bean from the shaft, one seed at a time (amateur method), I realised I forgot to keep money to grind the beans. I ransacked the house for stray naira notes but found nothing.
I went over to Uncle IK’s house to beg his wife for money but no one was home. The time was 6:30pm. I had barely thirty minutes to do something about the beans before the market closes. With no particular motive in mind, I grabbed the bucket of beans on my head and dashed off to the market once again. When I got to the grinding section, the traders had already begun to pack their wares.
“Please ma, grind my beans please. I have no money today but I would pay you on Wednesday.”
I moved from one stall to another pleading.
They all hissed at me and went about their business.
When darkness began to set, I grabbed my bucket of beans and raced home to re-strategise.
I didn’t know when I sunk on my bed and drifted off to sleep. There I was, hoping I was going to find some free place to grind the beans in my dreams. sigh
When I woke up, it was some minutes past 11pm.
PHCN had seized power while I slept.
The bucket of beans was still at the foot of the bed.
I didn’t even know where to begin. Uncle IK and his wife were coming for their moimoi first thing in the morning. I had a reputation to protect. My aunt was returning home the next evening and I couldn’t let her see the mess I made of her kitchen. We had no fridge to preserve the beans, but we had a bad ass mortar&pestle and I am not a quitter.
Without thinking twice, I emptied half of the beans into the mortar and began pounding like a witch in the dead of the night. My shadow on the wall was frightening, like I was pounding people’s destinies.
After ten minutes of pounding vigorously, I flashed my dim torchlight at the product in the mortar and froze in horror.
Pounded beans was a huge mistake and I was brought up not to waste food.
I emptied the contents of the mortar into the bucket of the remaining beans and mixed both of them together.
Crushed seven cubes of maggi, a spoon of salt, a spoon of pepper, crayfish, two cups of water and stirred the strange looking mixture. It was like a food they were preparing for sacrifice.
When I was done, I searched for nylon but it was nowhere to be found.
Rain had began to drizzle.
The torchlight was getting dimmer and dimmer…
Not every time moimoi wrapped in bits. Sometimes make one large moi, after all, all na beancake.
I emptied the contents of the bucket into a big pot, lit the stove and place it on the fire in all its botoboto glory.
Lightening flashed and a loud thunder struck immediately. I supposed sango, amadioha, thor and other gods were acknowledging my sacrifice.
The torch had seized at that point. The only flicker of light in the room was from the stove flame. I squatted in front of the stove like I was cooking dinner for a witchcraft meeting.
The aroma was as strange as the sight. One minute it was smelling like boiled akara, the next minute, soured beans. I never bothered to open the pot all through for fear that what I may behold might trigger a nightmare. After 30 minutes of boiling the moi moi. I put out the fire and went to bed.
In the morning, I avoided the pot like a plague.
I just couldn’t bear to open that shit…until Uncle IK and his wife barged into the kitchen and went straight for the pot. I tried to stop them but they were adamant.
They both let out an outburst of laughter when they beheld my moimoi fiasco. I dipped my pinky finger when they left and licked it and believe me, the moi or whatever it was tasted as bad as it looked. Watching both of them laugh at me again later in the day, I realised the way to a man’s heart may be through his stomach, but you’ll only stay there if you can laugh together through the years.