Greetings to you, dear reader. I missed you too, the past week or so has been a wild roller-coaster of events, people and places, not all good, sadly, but I am back, victorious, and thankful. So I peeped into facebook this evening, for my customary dose of wetin dey happen and all that jazz, and lo and behold, the wrangling on facebook today is about wife material, and whether N500 can make a pot of soup. The annoying thing is how many opinions and counter opinions exist on the subject matter. What all the chatter-carpers spending time and data on the subject failed to acknowledge is that there are various kinds of soup, made with a wide variety of ingredients, and with a stunning range of prices. There are even levels of soup, when the ingredient is the same. Let me walk you through some of the stages in my life, and the various kinds of soup I have cooked. Shall we?
Secondary school soup:
This type began in my secondary school days, when it was regarded as a seriously cool thing to have an alternative to the very bland fare provided by the school authorities. I went to a boarding school, so I guess that should explain itself. This can even be broadly divided into two classes, junior and senior secondary school soup. Junior secondary school soup consisted primarily of fish, sardines or mackerel, popularly called “geisha” (the most popular brand back then, I think) and whatever sauce or the plain oil it was packaged in. this was eaten with relish, as the novelty that accompanied its procurement was something to be proud of.
Senior secondary school soup, on the other hand, was usually a serving of the normal school soup, which was as tasteless as papier-mache (fine art class, anyone?) made marginally more palatable by the addition of spices which we persuaded our parents and big sisters to prepare for us during the holidays, usually made of pepper and crayfish, with a tiny bit of salt added. The fact that we could smuggle soup out of the dining hall and reheat later with our very illegal hot plates and legal pressing irons (another day’s gist, biko) made this kind a big deal, and people actually boasted of their cooking prowess in this one.
Chai, owu na bastard!!
We used to have one leaf we used to go and pluck, very scary something. The leaf was not ugu, ewedu, onugbu, or any of the regular soup vegetables used in conventional cookery. It grew in profusion in front of the house of a man down the street. He probably planted it for ornamental purposes, or maybe it had medicinal value. Whatever. What I know is we attacked that plant, plucking and cooking the leaves until it looked like the plant had survived a nasty bug infestation.
Inside school hostel nko? Fire!
My neighbors and roommates were like hawks, swooping down if they saw anything that was very good or very unique. I lost count of the times I “borrowed” people soup because theirs had finished or was yet to begin. Thankfully, I left hostel, and its funny ways of cooking, real quickly.
By my final year, the hustle had become a living, breathing part of my life, as natural to me as swimming to a fish, and I could afford better, could cook better.
Fast forward to the nysc/living alone/ post school days stage of my life.
I have always been a big believer in having foodstuff in the house. Whether staples or condiments, I sha like having food in the house. Rice, beans, garri, yams. Spices in bulk. And as for soup ingredients, I had egusi, ogbono, and a few other soup ingredients in the house. A lot of times, when I went to buy stuff from the market in order to cook, it was always tomatoes, pepper, okro, and a few other things I didn’t have in bulk at home. The monthly bulk buying that occurred after seeing alert/salary always took care of the essentials. And I do not recall using N500 to cook a pot of soup, not in recent times.
That probably happened last in 2014, and that was because I had some things in the house before hitting the market. So when I see people waxing lyrical about how N500 can make a pot of soup, I’m tempted to ask, where is this miracle happening? Even Jesus preferred to multiply bread and fish, with good reason. The person that is using N500 to make a pot of soup from scratch, which level of soup is it? Secondary school soup? Or is it a soup he or she can proudly offer a treasured guest, knowing that it gives the best impression of his or her abilities as a cook and host(ess)?
Nigeria of today, forget that the government claims we are on our way out of recession, since there has been no perceptible drop in the prices of consumables and foodstuffs, from scratch, what can N500 buy? How much soup can it make, and of what grade?
I’m just tempted to question and challenge this notion of “wife material” that society foists on young women these days. I know couples where the man does the bulk of the cooking, and heaven does not fall. I’m going to question the concept of wife material, and what it means, but it won’t be in this piece. Tell me what you think.