Wrapped in a Leaf

Remember those dead things we bought at the market? Well while it was fun to buy them, I couldn’t help but think how much more interesting it would be to cook them. We would be cleaning snails, killing and de- feathering a live chicken, washing and chopping up bloody pieces of meat, ahhh, how fun it would be to watch the faces of my adolescent harem. 😀

But alas! It was not meant to be. For the day before the show was to begin, I came down with a nasty infection. One that left me with an equally nasty cough for weeks after. This meat cooking day was also Dami’s first day of class. So the one day I happened to miss class not only did I miss the most interesting part, I also prolonged my agbaya status. After all I couldn’t truly feel better until I laid eyes on my friend.

So I missed the cleaning of the snails, and the killing of the chicken, and the deboning of the fish, only to come back the next class to meet leaves. No meat, no snails, no fish, just a number of, very large, leaves…

In actual fact, what I met first were a number of average sized newspapers. Newspapers which we had to learn to fold in a certain way on the table, and then the same way in midair, before finally, we were allowed to touch the leaves.

For those of you familiar with the Nigerian dish called Moi-moi, you already know that it is traditionally served in a leaf. And for those of you familiar with cooking Moi-moi, you also know that the proper folding of said leaf is essential to the Moi-moi making process.

Now the other essentials of this process are what we call the “emi” or in English, the “lives” of the Moi-moi. Of these we had a few: Boiled eggs, Crayfish, Corned beef, and the like. The combination of some of which in a bean paste wrapped in a leaf and steamed for 30-45 minutes can produce some of the nicest tasting Moi-moi you will ever eat.

So it was that I learnt to make Moi-moi; From folding newspapers… Sounds easy doesn’t it?

Damola Mabogunje

Software Engineer by day, Blogger, Poet and Author, by night, I spend my days writing everything from the convex comma, to highly complex code.

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