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Culture Focus Global Kitchen International Voices

What It’s Like At Home: The Sunday Evening Flow

timioduntan December 21, 2020

Illustration Credit: Eva Dinino

Home is Lagos, Nigeria and on most Sunday mornings we’ve just showered and are dressed in our Sunday’s best, getting ready to head to church (if you’re religious) or, have a chill morning filled with slower routines and the relaxing aura of the final day of the weekend.

My family and I would always have a hasty morning to get to Church – I never appreciated this part really – but there was something about seeing my dad up early, but not leaving for work. Once everyone was accounted for in the car we would listen to the radio, it was almost always gospel music riffing through my father’s GX470 as he coolly sped us off to the house of worship.

Beyond the arrival and departure from the church, the real tradition begins when we get home. I would be in charge of putting diesel in the generator – in Nigeria electricity is not constant and so we always have to account for a full generator for power at odd hours. While I am sorting out the generator, my mother and sister discuss what meal the family would be having. It usually orbits around fried rice (curry-based rice supplemented with mixed vegetables and sometimes shrimp or chicken) or we go with the traditional swallow meal. Swallow is the colloquial name widely used in Nigeria to describe starchy foods that are cooked to a dense paste and eaten with various soups. The method of eating implies the name swallow i.e. using your fingers, take a morsel of paste, dip it in soup and swallow it – very simple, very fulfilling!

Most times we’d go with swallow and from there another decision-making cycle begins What type of swallow do we want to eat? Could be Eba, which is made from grated and dried cassava, and is also popularly called Garri. It could also be Pounded Yam, which per the name, is literally pounded yam or for the quick-fixers, is processed yam flour cooked with hot water and a bit of arm effort.

One more quick delegation over the soup which involves a speedier selection process and the cooking begins. The boys usually set the table, kick back and feed our thirst for passion with a game of the greatest sport in the world, Football, specifically – The English Premier League. If we’re lucky it’s a Super Sunday and two of the top six teams are playing. If they aren’t, we don’t care, it’s Sunday regardless!

Before you know it lunch is served. After prayers over the meal and gratitude to the loving chefs, we dig in. With our hands washed and dried, there’s no greater feeling than eating with family and enjoying the bliss of the traditional home. After an hour or so the parents fall asleep, after all, Monday is knocking on the door. My brother and I watch a movie or segue into a marathon of video games. 

Ultimately, everyone falls asleep – it’s our tradition. Once we wake the Sunday tradition is over and we begin to prepare for the incoming week. From hours of shared meals with family; conversing over ideas; and recollecting each of our takeaways from the earlier sermon, it is an amazing feeling to settle in with family and embrace the traditional roles of lovingness and well, food!