Ready or Not: Cooking

“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.

Good to the last scoop

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.

Noodles, veggies, oil, and you’re good to go

Here are three of my go-to non-African dishes:

  • Garlic in oil
  • Meat and stew
  • Quesadilla

For the Navigators who are amateur or professional chefs, what are some quick, relatively easy recipes you can share with our community?