Hello everyone. If you had read my article on “first Fridays in Bahrain”, you would recall that I posted that, events hosted by Nigerian wives usually involve a variety of dishes from jollof rice to fried rice, salads, rice flour with egusi or efo riro soup, right. Well, last friday, the hostess was able to tone it down successfully with rice, salad and peppersoup. This friday, a lady( and also my neighbour), who was having a “small” (over 50 people) get together for her new-born son, decided to do the same with almost disastrous consequences.
So it is Thursday and food prep for the event is underway. The lady has chosen to make jollof rice, fried rice and salad. With 15 kg of only red meat staring at me, I knew that given the precedence, it would be a really bland meal because of the lack of variety, so I offered…….ok, insisted……demanded…. that we spice it with something. I decided on some meat kebab. (I know. I am awesome, right.) Since it is a favourite snack of my hubby, I already had all the tools I needed. I got some gizzard to give it a little spice. So friday morning, it was time for the cooking. I learnt that the menu has been changed to just jollof rice, rice flour and efo riro. Although i was initially unhappy with the addition of the rice flour, at the end of the day, I am unashamed to say I was very wrong because it saved the day. Now the ladies cooking the rice were not the ministry wives who usually chip in,(read first friday in Bahrain) but two ladies that attended the same church with the new mother. Trust women, the task were divided with each section completely minding their own business.
I settled down to make my meat kebab, consisting of red, green, orange and yellow bell peppers, with regular and white onions to give it that colourful look. Had some help from one of the ministry wives. While everyone was done and had left by 11 a.m, i was still hard at work setting up the sticks. I had to take back to my place to grill it in a pepper mix consisting of powdered Kashmiri chilli powder, crayfish, curry, ginger and garlic powder.(catering practical things). I was told it was fanimorous(Nigerian slang for delicious), i never got to taste it.
looks awesome, right.
Now, it is 5 p.m. Time for the program to commence. Of course Nigerians are never early, so it wasn’t until 6 that people began to arrive. Then the first disaster struck. The pool venue intended to be used, minus being super cold, had no lighting……… shocking right?, you would think that would be one of the first things checked out. Now they had to relocate to another open space. With the ladies and men hovering around and only the host carrying chairs, i had to eh……….encourage the little ones to help carry. They were suitably compensated with two meat kebab each. Eventually, at my urging, (yeah i know, i am superwoman), some men got into the action. Finally, the event was underway. The serving went on relatively smoothly with my meat kebab going swiftly (i did lose my temper for a bit when a lady called me “mama put”-a woman that serves foods in make-shift kiosks. I told the lady in very clear and colourful terms that i do not appreciate that. Did i over-react? Maybe. Will i act the same way next time……..definitely. That one helps out in events, is no ground for disrespect, joking or otherwise. If she had called me Gordon Ramsay or Cat Cora, internationally acclaimed chefs….eh heh…i would have given her extra meat kebab. Though i do regret a little that i reacted the same when a lady that i actually like called me ‘madam caterer’. Transferred Aggression)
After I had monitored the self-service and ensured that people could handle themselves, I then sat down to eat, only to discover that the rice had soured.
My reaction after tasting the sour rice. Amazing how someone managed to get a picture at the exact time.
I am beyond shocked that jollof rice made at 10 in the morning and kept in the cooler could be completely spoilt and stinking by 6p.m. One of the ministry wives then;suggested that perhaps the ladies from the church made it in a fried rice version or added too much tomatoes. (This is one reason why I am never involved in cooking rice for a large number of people. Minus the fact that I am a hit and miss cook, too many things can go wrong even for the best of cooks). I quickly went to check on the second cooler of rice which was, thank goodness still relatively edible. I immediately took down the first and proceeded to, as discreetly as possible, retrieve plates and swap the rice, though I am pretty sure the damage had been done. The efo riro made for the rice flour had since run out even though 6 wraps of rice flour still remained. The salad was finished, the disposable plates could not be found, we ran out of drinking water…… Everything seemed to be going wrong. Luckily, Nigerians are very jolly fellows and proceeded on to the celebration, spoiled food or not (i suspect that it was the abundance of alcoholic drinks that made everywhere seem lively despite the disaster). By 8 p.m, people began to disperse. We thought we had dodged the bullets. Unfortunately, 6 more Nigerian men came in. At this point, the second cooler had gone sour and we had to think of something quick. Luckily, one of the ministry wives suggested that the host make use of her own personal soup. So we proceeded to the flat to re-heat the soup for service. We were then able to serve the final six. After that, it was drinking all the way.
It was quite a day. Temper flared. A lot of dis-organisation and most sadly two coolers of food thrown away. It just goes to show that even with the most careful planning, things can go disastrously wrong. …….Drop a line if you think the event would have been better if we had resorted to the usual method of cooking varieties.