• Tola Coker

There's Rice At Home

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

For many, food has been a way for us to connect to our heritage. It acts as a bridge between us and the places we hail from.

Growing up, while my white peers would go home after school and have ooooh I don't know...cottage pie for dinner. I, on the other hand, would be welcomed to the smell of fried rice, plantain and chicken, or maybe yam porridge, not that I ate these dishes all the time. Still, these were the ones that had me excited to eat dinner – whether said dinner was finished or not is beside the point.

Weddings, parties and other miscellaneous celebrations are the places to be when consuming cultural foods.

There's something to be said about sitting outside in the summer, with a plate of food on your lap and a cold can of Supermalt by your foot. Seeing everybody enjoy life, eating their jollof rice, speaking various Nigerian dialects, gossiping, jisting and just being content. For some reason, the food always seems to taste better if it comes from the buffet table (sorry mum).

Eating the foods from our background gives us something tangible, something that we can see and claim. Even though at these aforementioned parties and gatherings, we may feel isolated from some parts of our own culture. We can look at these... and say "This is my thing, this is for me."

Recipes passed down from generation to generation till it reaches us; we have something to call our own and take pride in – if not in the beginning, then somewhere down the line on the path of reconnecting.

But as much we ate our favourite cultural foods, I'm pretty sure we didn't spend near enough time learning to how cook them – at least for me anyway. Every time my mum would call me into the kitchen to help her or watch what she was doing, I would always find a way to sneak away. It wasn't until my second year of uni where I decided I should probably learn to cook something else other than mac n cheese.

What I am getting at is – as disconnected as we may feel from our heritage and in turn, our identities; I believe that food is one of the things that help us find our way back home. (Unintentionally quotes Hannah Montana)

(written for 'The Road to Nowhere' zine)

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