Wash fish with cold water and lemon, then pat dry with a paper towel. With a sharp knife, score the skin of the fish. Season with a little salt and pepper, then allow to rest. Throw the onion, habanero and ginger in a blender and ; then mix with the dry chillis, the fish stock powder, some basil and some thyme. Add a little oil and mix until you have a smooth paste consistency. Smother the fish in the paste then wrap the fish in foil and place in the fridge. Then go to bed.
Rest well because in the morning your children will arrive. They have flown the nest and their visits home are few and far between. Nevertheless, they occasionally fly back. Whilst they may have outgrown the trappings of childhood, there is no one on this Earth who can outgrow a mother’s home cooking
Before you go to church, lay out your ingredients for the jollof rice. You will need rice, onions, plum tomatoes, oil, curry powder, all-purpose seasoning, bay leaves and rosemary. Blend the plum tomatoes, onions and sweet peppers until smooth. Pour into a pot and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for ten minutes. Invariably, someone will come to the kitchen because of the noise.
“How are things going?” they will ask.
“I’m just getting started,” you will say
Put the oil in a large pan, add sliced onions, fry for 2 minutes then add the bay leaves, the curry powder, the mixed herbs, stir for a minute, then add the blended mixture to the oil. Wash the blender. Add two teaspoons of all purpose seasoning, two teaspoons of vegetable stock, four maggi cubes, half of the rosemary and then bring the mixture to the boil. Turn down the heat, pour half in another pot and let them both simmer.
Rosemary smells like Good Friday. There is something appropriately sombre about the herb; it smells like victory after a time of strife, like death with the promise of resurrection.
Wash the rice until the water is clear enough to see your hand. Add the rice to one of the pots of stew. Add the remaining rosemary and stir well. Cover with foil, then the lid and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes.
Invite the youngest person in the house to be your taster. You don’t really need their feedback, the point is to observe the wonder pierce their face, right before the joy settles in.
Now to the efo riro. Wash the spinach and then add it to the second pot stew. Cook for five minutes and then switch off the heat.
The green colour of the spinach speaks of spring. Alternating days of sunshine and rain. The climate’s mood swings mirror the contrasts of the dish, the fresh and slightly metallic taste of the spinach against the spicy yet sweet tomato stew. One of your kids sees that preparation is well underway and comes to start setting the table. You speak about the weather, about children having children. You both recall this very day decades in the past and share hope that you will experience ones decades in the future.
You’ll need as many plantains as the number of guests who will be at your table. The plantain must be ripe, evident by the skin being one quarter to one-third black is the ideal ripeness. Chop off the ends, and with your knife score a line across the length of the plantain and remove the skin. Fill a frying pan with oil and once the oil is hot, add the slices from one or two of the plantains; fry until both sides are golden brown.
The plantain reminds you of the sweetness of life. It is like every smile, every laugh, every hug you’ve ever received, packaged together in a bite.
Place the fish on a grill and roast until you have the perfect balance of outer crispiness and inner juiciness. Baste the fish as it grills. Then serve
As your family gathers around the table for dinner you will say, “We eat fried fish to remember our Lord.”
This statement will trigger different things in the minds of different members of your family. Some will think of the Bible story of a little boy who shared his lunch with Jesus; others will recall the story of fishermen who caught nothing on their daily run, only to be instructed to cast out their nets one more time. Both stories involve miracles, and you acknowledge your own miracle at this table: your family gathered around you.