“Your single years should be the time when you prepare yourself for marriage.” Fellow Navigator, have you heard something like this before? I call rubbish. My single years should be the time I prepare myself for life. It’s as if being a wife is solely about doing domestic work; it’s not.
While I disagree with the notion that my time right now must be devoted to learning how to cook, clean, and fold fitted sheets, I believe that adulting requires basic knowledge of these things. Let’s take cooking, for example. As an African woman, I didn’t really learn how to cook my traditional food until undergrad; it was embarrassing. There was a guy who basically told me I was his perfect woman, except I had the fatal flaw of not knowing how to cook cassava leaves, potato leaves, peanut butter stew, and the full gamut of Sierra Leonean dishes. At the time, I used his rubbish statement as fuel for my fire and became determined to learn how to cook my country’s cuisine.
In hindsight, I think back and laugh (that’s what I should’ve done in his face). Seriously, cooking is something just about anyone can learn. Unless you’re planning on competing for a Michelin star or becoming a top chef, learning the basics of boiling, frying, and sautéing is not that difficult. This man acted as if I couldn’t spend some time in the kitchen with my mother or numerous aunties to learn the art of cooking from them.
If a man ever has the audacity to tell you to your face that you’re not wife material because you can’t cook, you politely remind him that cooking is a learned skill. Instead of complaining, he could gift you a few lessons to ignite a passion for it. Better yet, he could accompany you to those classes and you both could have a fun date night.
What happened to the guy from undergrad? Well, I ended up cooking a Sierra Leonean dish for him one day, and he loved it. It’s too bad I was over him by that point (I only did it to prove I was capable).
Like I said, cooking is something anyone can do; cooking well is a skill that is acquired after serious practice. Let’s be real: eating out all the time is expensive, unhealthy, and inconvenient at times. I mean, even if I order in, I have to pay for delivery, tip the delivery person, know what I want ahead of time so it’s at my door before I get home, or wait in line at the restaurant for other people to figure out their lives and what to order. I can’t. Over the years, however, I’ve learned some very basic dishes that are quick, easy, and won’t break the bank.
Here are three of my go-to non-African dishes:
- Garlic in oil
- Meat and stew
For the Navigators who are amateur or professional chefs, what are some quick, relatively easy recipes you can share with our community?