A Case for Gbegiri

Day 11’s Theme: Food!

Last May, I was in a film camp for two weeks. One of those days, we arrived at dinner to find the menu was to be a choice between either amala and ewedu or eba and egusi.

Before I proceed, I must describe my relationship with the said amala. What better way to do this but to call amala, my shakara lover.

On a regular, this beautiful lady comes to me, kisses me on the nose and just when I’m about to grab her, she leaves me panting after her scent. And no, it’s never over cause just when I’m thinking I’m finally getting used to her absence, there she is- right under my nose again…a cycle of longing; indulgence and unavailability.

As much as my best soup is oha soup, I’d choose the amala and ewedu combo anytime. As an Igbo lady, this might be outright blasphemy to some but it is what it is…

Back to my story, when I saw the dinner options that day, the eba and egusi did not get even a second thought from me. I decided immediately that I would have the amala instead.

See, I’m unapologetically acquainted with having amala and ewedu but I had never had it with the gbegiri sauce. Since the first day I heard of its existence from a neighbour, I had always wondered what sort of spirit could possess a man to eat “pounded beans” as soup! The depravity of it all was staggering.

Soon, it got to my turn to be served and even though I already knew I was going for the love of my life when the server asked me if I wanted gbegiri to go with it. In a moment of haste, adventure, and panic not to be caught holding the line, I affirmed his suggestion.

Here is where my heart got broken: before I could give supply more information, he had scooped a big spoonful of the orange looking stuff into my plate almost, drowning my beloved ewedu.

Was I sad? What do you think?! This was my first amala in a long time and here was my poor ewedu drowning in a pool of pounded beans I could not vouch did not taste horrible!

Yes, I was sad of course. Yet, I did not need the whole world to know this. The server had not intentionally decided to hurt me so I gathered my heart together to go through this dinner strong, for myself, God and my Yoruba friends surrounding my table.

I took the first taste with faith and the martyr’s resolution: “If I perish, I perish”. I was prepared to manage the first three swallows as proof of loyalty to my beloved ewedu then if it was too horrible, I was sure I could find people desiring a second helping.

That first taste was normal. No burst of energy. No stars or sudden epiphany. Just plain good taste. Five swallows later, I had to confess to myself that it wasn’t so bad. Ten more swallows later, I turned to my dining partners, expressing my surprise and delight at how unexpectedly marvellous the soup was with the gbegiri sauce.

You should have seen them agreeing with me and selling their gbegiri sauce the more. “This one is small, if you taste real gbegiri and Ewedu, you will never have another”, one said.

I tried gbegiri with my amala a second time about six days later. This time I was quick to supervise, ensuring that my ewedu was not drowned. The experience was even much better.

So, yes this is me announcing that my lovely amala is now complete in my discovery of gbegiri. I reckon that this female will be doing more of it in the future.

To all my friends, people of the other tribes,

I have sat with you as we discussed and renounced the Yoruba’s craziness that is the invention of pounded beans as soup, the gbegiri. I wish to let you know that it’s not as bad as you think. Scrap that, it’s not bad at all.

You should give it a try, who knows, you just might be a convert like me.

Also I have a new resolution: Next time, I’m thinking twice before sentencing myself to twenty years of abstinence from a food based on bias, ignorance, tribalism, half-truths or just plain sight.

I mean if these people have eaten these foods for so long how bad can it be? Of course, I don’t expect to like every food but that habit of squeezing one’s nose in disgust at the sight, I plan to drop…carefully, slowly. It won’t be easy but it is now more of a conscious effort.

Now, here’s a cheer to periwinkles, one of my other prejudices. All I can say for now is one day…just one day.

***amala is a Yoruba meal made from yam flour. It is can be eaten with a range of soups, gbegiri and ewedu only one of the many options. I prefer to eat it using my bare hands but others can use cutleries. Amala is meant to be swallowed, not chewed.

Hi, I'm Chioma Jeremiah. I'm passionate about helping my community see the beautiful light that each day brings. My goal is to inspire you with everything that will make each read the best for you.


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