Adanna Elechi: My Transition From An Ajebo To A Mama-put Pikin

I am always going on and on about how much of an ajebo I am. It is written all over me and I know world people see it too. I know I was raised with the mentality that street food was bad for me. You can blame my Dad (RIP my love), he had probably seen thousands of food poisoning cases as a doctor. He always stressed the need to eat at home or if you must eat out, look for a decent place. I grew up paying no mind to street food vendors a.k.a mama-put. Boarding school food doesn’t count.

When I went to the university and my hatred for the market (you can read my Lagos island market experience here) made me adapt to eating out. I had to look for the cleanest place to eat. Shout out to excellent café. It was downhill from there, I found myself at mama Nkechi’s shop eating moi moi and rice. Every day I ate there, a little chip of my ‘ajeboness’ fell off.

One day, my friend Ugochi Nwaneri bought a plate of vegetable soup for me. I ate it and fell deeply in love. It became my new addiction but I never went to where she bought it from. On this particular day, my craving was off the charts, I had to sit down and ask myself if I had spoken to any angel and accepted to carry another savior. I called my vegetable soup connect (In Tommy Egan‘s voice) but she was out of town so she directed me to the place.

I was skeptical about going there because I knew the addiction was about to end. Against my better judgment, I dressed up and took a bike to the place. Immediately I looked into the tiny restaurant, the craving disappeared. I was happy and sad at this same time, I was happy I didn’t have to eat garri every day. I was also very happy I still had some ajebo remaining in me; but I was sad because I really loved that soup and thought we would last longer than we did.

Fast forward to my service year. Of course, camp food wasn’t an option. I chose the neatest restaurants in mami to eat. I was forming ‘Davido thing, till I resumed at my PPA and the corps members in my department inducted me into the roasted yam hall of fame. My Lord! The place was on another level, way worse than the tiny vegetable soup restaurant. It was in the open and we had to go through a bush path to get to it.

Asides having to pass through a bush path, there was also a mechanic village just beside it. I obviously left my real self at home that day. By the time I got home and the real Adanna entered and I remembered what my parents used to say about how mechanic village food killed our mechanic, it was too late. Drake’s ‘if you are reading this it’s too late’ was about me.

This roasted yam and plantain became my motivation to go to work. The food was so good I mention it in almost every article I have written. The surrounding was no longer filthy; in my eyes it was a 5-star restaurant. I was obviously gone. When the next batch of corps members came in, I took them there for induction and we did this every day of the week. At this point my home training was gone. I would eat beans and plantain occasionally by the roadside. Something I would never do when I was still normal.

Immediately after service, the veil of roasted yam was lifted and I regained my senses and returned to my ajebo ways. I forgot to mention there was a woman who sold rice and stew from the boot of an abandoned Mercedes in my estate, right in front of my house gate. I never looked at her twice. I guess she didn’t know where the roasted yam woman got her own ‘kobnomi’. I would be dying of hunger inside my house, but I still won’t go out to buy from her because I was an ajebo and her jazz hadn’t touched me.

I was safe until my friend Sasa came around and bought rice and ofe akwu. The food scientist in me said ‘no’. My parent’s words were ringing in my head about barrow food. This was even worse because this was in an abandoned car. Who knew the wild animals that lived inside that car? She kept telling me to buy, but my will was strong until we got inside and she opened the food. The aroma sent me straight back to my mother’s kitchen scraping her ofe akwu pot.

I was still forming, but the torture was getting out of hand, so I stylishly begged her for a spoon with a small attitude. After complaining, she reluctantly gave me. Ladies, gentlemen and other genders, that was how the ajebo in me finally died. I went from buying with her takeaway packs to carrying my own warmer like a true ‘mama-put pikin’. The first day I took my warmer, I knew that the woman had gone somewhere deep for me. I was always the first person there. It was almost as if my spirit knew when she was outside. It got so bad I dropped my house key for her sales girl to keep my food in the fridge whenever I left for work before they came out. The Mercedes all of a sudden went from an abandoned flat boot to an AMG E 53 4matic. That was when I knew there was no redemption. Brethren, I asked the woman if she was traveling for Christmas before I got my ticket. I almost picked her over my own family. Mercedes Benz boot rice and ofe akwu murdered the last drop of ajebo in me.

I am currently recovering and eating at home most of the time now. I enjoy preparing my own meals and using spices I can hardly pronounce thanks to the Food Network. At least I know the food is clean and the sodium and oils in it are controlled which is very important for my health. I eat out once in a while now, Abacha, ji kpacha with beans etc, but I still have my ajebo on lockdown. That being said, I want to thank in a special way all the mama-puts that saved me before I finally blew. Abeg I never blow o, epp me!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

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