"Help! Where can I get Nigerian food? My son's country for UN Day is Nigeria." This was the urgent text message I sent out to friends last week. It was already Tuesday and the program was on Thursday, and I was leaving for a business trip that Thursday. Where o where can I get Nigerian food in Manila?
When I say I'm looking for Nigerian food, my friends know I'm actually looking for a restaurant that serves Nigerian food, or a store that sells Nigerian snacks or something. That's because I'm not really a good cook, and they know that. Meg knew that, so when her husband Dennis's Nigerian classmate said there isn't a place in Manila that serves Nigerian food, she didn't think of suggesting I cook a recipe from the Internet.
"Parang curry curry na lamb lamb daw siya," said my friend Jing. Great. I cannot cook lamb.
"Nyar! I'll ask around," said Yummy editor-in-chief Becky.
"How about you ask the Nigerian Embassy?" said my friend Germaine. Nice idea. I did. But office hours were only up to 4 pm and it was already past 4:30 pm.
"You want to call my tita? She worked as a missionary in Nigeria for five years. She can teach you something simple to cook," said my friend Ruth. I told her I'll keep that in mind and will resort to that if I come up with nothing.
My friend Kytin e-mailed her former classmate Fonma who's a Nigerian consul. Fonma confirmed what I dreaded: Nigerian food is not sold in Manila. He suggested preparing rice and stew with chicken and goat meat, fried beans cake called akara, and pepper soup cooked with goat meat, thyme, and curry. I will not attempt to do them because the kids in school may not like my cooking and it will reflect on Nigeria the country.
Sherry saved the day. She directed me to the website www.foodbycountry.com. And there was a simple recipe called Chin Chin she said I can easily do. "Fried flour with sugar lang, Ate," she said. Hmmm. My niece, seeing my dilemma, volunteered to cook it for me. She can have it done by 10 am on Thursday so we can bring it to the program venue at 10:30 am before I dash to the airport.
And so ChinChin it was. It's just...doughnuts without the hole. http://www.foodbycountry.com/Kazakhstan-to-South-Africa/Nigeria.html#Chinchin
My other problem then was how to find the agbada costume that my son will wear. It's a long flowing tunic with long sleeves, often embroidered. Since I'm a no-fuss mom, I was wondering how I can pull this off. I can't do the costume -- I'm not one of those moms who labor over making costumes. (I have nothing against that. I'm just not gifted in crafts making or anything to do with hands.) I couldn't find Camp Suki's number (they're into costume rentals). My niece suggested I just take a blanket and wrap it around my son. We tried it but it didn't look good. He looked like a mummy struggling to be free.
So my son suggested he just be a Nigerian dictator. He went to the UN Day program wearing a coat and tie and declared to the audience, "I'm from the land of oil and dictatorship -- NIGERIA!"
BOOK OF THE WEEK: My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers is a classic devotional that stands the test of time. The insights are still relevant today even if the book was published more than 75 years ago. I read somewhere that actor Piolo Pascual reads this. It's a gem.
VERSE OF THE WEEK: The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. Psalm 146:9