Oh here we are, the last time on this column, I wrote about my arrival and the awkward feel, read it here: http://ennycole.com/bienvenue-a-america-1/
They say America is the land of milk and honey, oh not that it bothered me. Soon enough, it would really bother me when I begin to starve myself. Yuck, my tongue has refused to yield to American food, I mean who does what they did to palm oil? My sweet scented palm oil! What was the thing the guy who made foreign palm oil put in it again? Carotenes? That shii made my tongue
twerk! So I ran 200 miles, yes African store was that far, to the store and bought myself correct palm oil. Organic!
The first time I tasted it, my eyes rolled in my head and I couldn’t bring myself to eat the food.
So from my little arrival hints, I bring you another journal episodes of my new abode.
Six foods I hate in America.
Plantain: No wonder it is on top the list. How can I hate plantain in America? Plantain that I never could do
without in Naija. Back in school, it was either plantain or no food that day. If the plantain wasn’t ready at the cafeteria, I would wait for it, monitor till it was ready before I purchase my food. To the extent that I was
known as the lady who waits for plantain at all cost. One of the guys at my second best cafeteria in school then would even top up my plantain. If six pieces were 20 Naira, I would have a double of it.
Now I am here and I can’t even eat plantain in peace let alone fry one. First of all, I forgot there was electric cooker and most of the time, I burnt food a lot. Who would blame me, I was using the cooking time frame I normally set when cooking on stove for it. It made me remember when i started using gas, Oh lord! the food and pot burnt together! But that’s not the case with plantain oh. The first time I wanted to eat plantain, I was excited as usual and set out to fry, to my horror, it got burnt and the taste was unpalatable. I saw that the oil was fighting war with the plantain on the frying pan as I frustratingly turned this way and that way so it could come out right, but no, the plantain just refused. On the second frying occasion, it got sticky and burnt and looked ugly. Mehn it was like I never knew how to fry plantain but I refused to accept. I mean, we know how these things work, deep frying and shit, even if a plantain ends up sticky and stuff, we know how it turns out but not this one.
That’s not all, I tasted it and I was like plwesse what’s
this? Is this plantain? Terrible. It was nothing like my sweet yummy plantain I ate back home.
After concluding that I had finally lost it on how to fry plantain in this place, I was surprised when one day at church a friend and I were talking and we managed to broach the frying plantain topic and she said, “everything just looks so silly, I would be frying plantain like I don’t know how to fry at all” and there that’s it, I made my point.
I thought I was the only one waging war with plantain oh, I concluded that American plantain is wack or the place we frequently bought the plantain is wack and their plantain too is wack. Shey?
But my saving grace came, we bought some fresh robust looking plantain and I fried them, oh lord it came out beautifully and I grinned. It tasted better but never like my Nigerian plantain.
Rice: ( sits down and smh ) is rice not supposed to be easy and general food for all, no headaches? Maybe it is the product oh but I don’t know what these people did to this rice that anytime I am cooking, it would start foaming on top and sides of the pot like soap, and owing to the weather, when the foamy thing dries up on the pot, it becomes ugly looking and hard to wash off. I hated the sight of boiling my rice and seeing that stuff, I always clean it up immediately. Did I tell you that no matter how you pour vegetable oil in it, it would still foam and stain the whole place and they said no need to wash the rice. Whew, I miss home rice already. Not like I have any choice as long as the rice comes out good on my tongue, rice constitute a half and quarter of my meal potions so who am I to complain of any foam thing
Fruits: *claps hands together* To eat fruits is a problem
for me here, I don’t know whether it is the preservative or whatever concoction these fruits where planted with that upsets my tongue or the look of it. Take banana from a glance, *laughs in Spanish* how can banana look so fresh and sumptuous yet it’s not easy to eat? I will explain. You see how when you buy a banana and you settle down to eat with sweet groundnut? ( oh don’t even let me start on groundnut, *cries* nothing to write home about, one dry thing like what I don’t know. Once my friend said when someone from Nigeria brought groundnuts from home, his taste buds rebelled with him, how could he served them the best groundnuts last after all these years?)
So as I was saying, you peel the banana in one smooth way, taking the body down in threes and working your way down its flesh with your teeth. Not the banana here, you peel banana and it’s like you are fighting. It would refuse to tear away smoothly, you will tug at it and end up messing it, especially when it has become soft at the top. See how fresh the banana looks but the enthusiasm to eat is lost once you start? Even the organic ones too.
Oranges are weird here, normally oranges are round, small, smooth yellowish balls. Once I went to the store to get oranges and I couldn’t decipher if it was an orange or a tangerine! The tangerine is as big as the orange. I don’t even understand this fruit here. Don’t let me start on the taste.
Berries are supposed to be those lovely tasty round balls right? Well, I had a taste of some good ones but when I went to a Chinese restaurant and saw the berries that was served there. I fainted, big ugly things.
Cucumber is so weird I often forget to eat it, it ends up rotten. Anytime I see it at the store, I do minimini mani mor. I am even scared to break open the coconut I bought since the past two years lest I regret it. I can’t eat fruits in peace. I think the fruits I enjoyed are watermelon, the real berries and cantaloupe; that’s like green pawpaw.
Vegetables: Imagine me cooking vegetables and getting frustrated. I used to cook sweet vegetables garnished with orisirisi, plenty assorted. Imagine the horror when I settled to cook veggies with so much happiness that after, I would settle myself to a bowl of Amala and hot assorted, well garnished veggies only to be disappointed! Where did they get these veggies from? Prior to cooking, cutting the veggies was like tugging at a rope that would refuse to come off. It was hard because it was slippery, even in the pot, it was slippery, outside the pot , on a plate, slippery and the taste- just funny!
How can I explain to you that since I came, I haven’t eaten correct vegetables. Recently things got better, I ate one vegetable like that. Oh how glad I was, cutting it was even fun, the normal way you cut vegetables like slices not the one I would be pursuing to cut.
Chicken: I cannot emphasize how tired I am of eating soft chicken that looks like chewing soft eba. The chicken here has no struggle. Boil it only for two seconds and you are good to go, the things they inject in this chicken, only the grace of God can save one’s physical health because I don’t understand how chicken can be so soft like what I don’t know? Where I come from, chicken is king and it has this peculiar rich taste and smell once it lands on your tongue, even your tommy would welcome the king. Here, the chicken is their meat, eating it everyday is tiring and a bore. Maybe that’s whats makes them bloat or puffed up, I try to avoid chicken. Even roasting the chicken looks funny and tastes horrible to me. Sometimes I eat mostly fish( after struggle to pick a particular one at the store) meat or shaki, the inners, I am always very careful of these things. I hate whatever it was rubbed or preserved in.
Milk: Oh my! Where do I want to start from? They said the milk here is nutritious bla bla and those ones we take back home is full of dietary problems but me don’t mind oh. Bring back my peak milk! The day I tried to use the watery, not sweetened milk to drink garri (thank God there is garri ooh) I regretted it. I was like, please! The only thing that I use this milk for is to take cereal, this honey made cheerios, it sweetens the dull taste of the milk. And I also use it to take Milo ( thank God there is Milo oh) the choco drink comes out fine with that milk. But to drink that milk alone? Never! I knew my drinking garri escapades would turn out victorious when I saw peak powdered milk at African store but it was short lived when I did the garri process: milk, sugar, groundnuts. That peak milk taste wasn’t just there! Something was missing in that mix up, was it the milk or the groundnuts or the garri? I thought they wrote ijebu garri on it so what’ s the problem?
And I wondered, is there a different way these producers made products in different countries or what is this now?
The other day, I wanted to eat noodles and I am like, this would be good but no, it wasn’t good, it was like amoeba was dancing inside me or like I was swallowing human head, I had to throw it away. I later bought indomie noodles at the African store but ladies and gentlemen, the Nigerian indomie noodles and American indomie noodles are not brothers, they are distant cousins.
There are other food choices I am still getting used to, while some are ravishing enough to be eaten, others look as awful as it tastes and the particular smell
associated with some food turns me off. I am tired of not eating fresh food like back home, even the tomatoes is a problem, too pretty to be true. The tin tomato is worse. My jollof rice was just a joke. How can tomato
lasts for days inside the fridge and not soften? It’s a lie, I refuse to believe, the preservatives or injection in it must be strong and that makes it condemned by me because I want fresh! I rarely come across a soft tomato, back home you can’t save tomato for weeks without it turning to a pulp or become soft. Even the pepper is big like, I have never seen big pepper like this ones before ooh. Cooking fried rice was a sin as everything came packaged, please who does that? Developed country, everything nice, easy and smooth but this is style style suffering, my taste buds are suffering and my hands cooketh but in vain! So I don’t get to chop the carrots and greens and stuffs and just pour it in but it still doesn’t look great or taste great. Or is it that I am missing something? Maybe I need to calm down and patiently look for a place to get my food choice and preferences. Is there any? Or maybe I should get used to it but the question is, will my taste buds agree?
I may have considered snacking but I love my stomach, plenty sweet things doesn’t always sit right inside me so I try to avoid them.
Eating for me is terrible and I am still trying to find out what works. For now, I eat only the obvious, rice, bread, spaghetti etc.
It’s like my whole eating routine is upside down and I am on the verge of eating disorder. Thank goodness for African store by the way else, rice and the likes is already growing on my head.