Oxtail @ Harrods

Funny thing is, like Snails (The Giant  African Snails as oppose to the French Escargot/land snails)  I started out not caring very much for Oxtail.

But you can’t grow up in Nigeria, live amongst Nigerians , or be into naija men and not know what Oxtail is ; that succulently soft, gelatine, Bonny tail of a cattle! Now I can say these things and end with yum!  But until recently I was quite indifferent to it. Everything changed when  I visited one of my closest friends for dinner, she served oxtail amongst other delights, assuming that I and my husband cared for the thing! But in my usual excitement about the amazing spread I must have asked why the Oxtail looked much bigger than normal,  she told  me she brought the Oxtail from Harrods and I remember giving her a look before laughing!

Now if this wasn’t my ‘personal person’ I would have secretly thought how pretentious! But I know my girl loves food, seriously loves food! She is the type of girl you’d find in China tang at the Dorchester on a Friday night, and at Lolak  in Peckham on Saturday ( if you haven’t tried these two restaurants you are a learner), so long as the food is good she/ we are there.

My friend didn’t really need to do much explaining, Harrods is synonymous with quality, the best sourced food under one wonderful roof! Dinner was scrumptous, the Oxtail was sublime! And so the next time I was entertaining with nigerian food, I went to Harrods of course! and I’ve never looked back! No one does it better. Pleaseeeeeee try Harrods oxtail!

There is no trick to cooking oxtail. It needs to be slow cooked. This is how I do mine.

  • Get your onions, ginger, garlic, black pepper, and knor.
  • Blend all the above and pour over your washed oxtail
  •  I rarely use dried herbs in my cooking, please leave it out; No to curry and thyme if you are Nigerian! Knor however is king of the jungle.
  • Salt it to taste, but usually the salt in the Knor cubes should be  sufficient
  • Cook on low heat; I can’t give you specific a time but I generally cook mine for over an hour
  • Getting your oxtail right is all about texture, texture,  texture, texture!  Just like spaghetti, and yes 90% of people I know can’t cook spaghetti right! So your oxtail needs to be soft enought to eat, without you chewing your jaw off!  but not so soft that it falls off the bone – think Al-dente.
  • Once your oxtail is cooked, put it under the grill, heat up high, and brown both  sides.
  • Now blend one onion, a scotch bonnet and fresh tomatoes.
  • Pour some palm oil ( use vegetable oil if you prefer, but if you are serving with efo then be consistent with the oil you used for the efo) in a pan, when it’s nicely heated pour  in your blended onions, scotch bonnet and tomatoes and cook it till its all reduced, add one knor chicken.
  • Once this paste is reduced, add in your oxtail, simmer and there you have it!

Thank me later! Naija food forever!

 

 

 

The Butler

I finally watched the Butler and although I know I shouldn’t, I compared it to 12 years a slave. But at least I can now articulate why 12 years a slave simply didn’t touch or move me like the Butler did.

I found the Butler more relevant to my experiences as a black working woman. Without meaning any disrespect, movies about slavery, as important and necessary as they are, have the capacity to delude some people into thinking that black people’s struggles are consigned to a dark time past.

I am uncomfortable with the knowledge that the more subtle and real stories of inequalities and lack of opportunities can’t compete with the sheer gore and brutality of slavery.

The story of the Butler is closer to my story. Cecil and his colleagues working in the Whitehouse often spoke about having two faces. If some black people are honest they may admit that there is still some element of truth in this. Sometimes we bend backwards so as not to appear “threatening, aggressive, feisty or diva -like”, negatives stereotypes often slung at black people- black women.

It took 20 years for Cecil to get a pay rise; pulling the lever of the president in the end. The truth about modern working life is that often white counterparts find it easier to find someone who believes in them. This is crucial for progression. If you don’t have a ‘godfather’ routing for you, believing in you, or encouraging you, it can take that bit longer, even with talent. There is nothing wrong with having a über mentor, if the same encouragement and support is readily available to black staff.

There are campaigns and attempts to redress the lack of equal opportunities in senior management in the UK today. But then you hear some people shouting that “black folks must be promoted on merit” indirectly and naively implying that the talent just isn’t out there, or implying that half of the white men in positions of power are talented or competent. The truth is that a lot senior managers are too complacent and lazy to see the talents of people who may not sound like them, come from similar backgrounds,went to the same university, dress like them and so on.

I also found the tension and discontent between Cecil and his son touching and sad. I see some of that struggle between an older black generation that insist that the younger generation of black people can attain anything BUT if they work twice as hard. It is bullshit advice. Working twice as hard to get exactly what your white friends have is not equality. It is another form of slavery. It is buy one get one free.

The Butler reminds me sadly of my reality at work, I am a minority. I sometimes have two faces, the one that wants to scream when the next senior manager waltz in talking about some half-hearted initiative to tackle or develop talent, because they only just found out that ethnic minorities are mostly consigned to junior roles or middle management. And the face that just wants to enjoy work, my colleagues and progress.

I’m a Perfect Size 8

Christian Louboutin high heels

Something really shitty happened to me on Thursday. I was about to get on the Northern line train from Bank to Moorgate, when without warning the train driver in his infinite wisdom decided to close the door without the  accompanying warning sound.  The minute I realised the door was closing I tried to hurry on,  but the akindindinrin in front of me was leisurely stepping on as if it was his father’s private jet! The door caught my sling back pencil heel shoe and it slipped right off my feet onto the platform. My entire body and the other pair of shoe stood inside the train while the other pair laid on the platform. I stood mortified as a fellow commuter  held up my shoe on the platform as the train slowly departed. I had lost one shoe! I kept hearing my mother’s voice “you already have a problem, focus on the solution”.

The only solution was for me to take off my second pair and just do the bare feet thing. Now very stupidly that very morning I had decided that tights were messing with my swagger so I wasn’t wearing any.  Yes!!! I was barefoot on the flipping underground!! People stared of course, but I just didn’t care because suddenly I was filled with dread! Where were those shoes from? panic. panic. panic.  “Calm down” a voice said, they were from Zara’.  They were from Zara! phew! The realisation that they were not expensive shoes overrode any sense of embarrassment, discomfort or self-consciousness I was feeling.  I would have cried if those shoes were expensive shoes!! but darm those shoes fitted my size 8 feet perfectly, without looking like a canoe! do you know how ard it is to find shoes in size 8! nice ones that look nice!

I can’t ever remember being smaller than a size 8! I must have had smaller feet at some point, but I can’t remember. All my adult life I’ve been a size 8, and all my adult life I’ve hated it.  Being a size 8 sucks because it is harder to find your size,  and when you do,  they are likely to look humongous, especially if they are poorly made.  It doubly sucks to be a size 8 when you don’t fit the ‘profile’. And there is profile. Models fit this profile. Models are much taller than average. But when a 5 foot 5 woman rocks up into a shoe shop and asks for a size 8 well let’s just say I used to get a lot of funny looks. I don’t utter the words size 8 anymore, I just casually ask  “what’s the biggest size you do?” because then the shop assistant is forced to say “size 8” or on rare occasions “size 9” and then I can comfortable ask “can I have a size 8 please” .

In my Twenties I realised that my best option was to shop in high end, high street shops or designer stores. But I couldn’t afford designer shoes at 21 so it had to be high end, high street. Pied de terre was a popular brand for me.  High end fitted better and made the feet look nicer.  At university my friends who had smaller feet thought I was crazy,  but I knew what I knew,  and I wasn’t even going to talk to a size 5 feet chick who would never understand the struggle!!

For a little while I deluded myself into thinking I could afford designer shoes for everyday wear.  I wrecked all my Sergerson Morrison shoes in the process ( high five if you still remember that shop)  . Now I reserve expensive shoes for outings only. Zara and Topshop will do for work these days, because shhhhhh even the low end high street stores have improved their cut for bigger feet! The shoe I lost was from Zara, much cheaper than even the Pied de Terre  I used to buy years ago. I’m glad things are improving for us bigger feet girls  – now lets just hope the next few years will see high street and even designer shoe stores stocking more that one or two pairs of size 8.Christian Louboutin high heels

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Sunday Sunday Church

church

I’ve never understood why it bothers other people that I don’t go to church. By other people I mean mostly Nigerians who are christians.  I sense the discomfort my laid back response of ‘no I don’t go to church’ evokes.  Most inquisitors will hurriedly change the conversation; a few might ask “are you a Muslim?”.

I have concluded that these people are not  interested in my salvation.  What it is, or rather what I think it is, is that I belong to a culture that doesn’t accept people who choose to deviate from the norm or question the status quo. For all the education, integration, and exposure, we are still mostly comfortable with things that are familiar, people who share the same values and aspirations, do the things we do, how we do it - perhaps this is intrinsically what  human socialization is.

I do not underestimate the significance of congregational worship. I get it completely. It just isn’t for me. And I wish people wouldn’t convolute church attendance with faith, because we all ought to know that both are not the same.   I often detect silent judgement, the questioning of my values,  and even my fitness as a wife and mother because i am not a regular church attendee – conservative nigeria.

For those who dig deeper and ask me questions I am honest. I’m just not that interested in physically attending church,  and yes I know Pentecostal churches are good fun,  but I haven’t been to one since forever. I don’t agree with most of the new Pentecostal teachings.  I don’t agree with prosperity teachings.  I don’t agree with generational curses.  I don’t agree with pastors owning private jets.  I don’t agree with the lack of female leaders in the church.  I don’t agree with the suppression of women. I don’t agree with the exploitation of women.  I don’t agree with the dogmatic pursuit of tithes.  I don’t agree with young girls volunteering for hours on end at the church.  I don’t believe in teachings that wouldn’t denounce domestic violence or provide shelter for battered women.  I don’t believe in demonizing  gay people. I don’t believe in leaders that wouldn’t stand and fight for poor people.  And I just can’t brush this all aside by saying I will attend and focus only on the word of God, because I strongly believe that the word and the teaching  should be entwined.

I tried the Church of England for some few months and I tell you it was so boring I  wanted to cry! Now Angligans ought to learn a thing or two from the Razzmatazz of  Pentecostal churches.  Do I miss going to Pentecostal churches? Yes, sometimes.  After all, the motivational speeches of pastors can be powerful and mesmerizing.  But more than that there is something comforting about worshiping with people who share the same faith, hope and aspirations. But there is the thing, apart from faith, I  find that  increasingly I do not share the same hope and aspirations as most of my fellow church attendees. I am not wielded to the dream of monetary prosperity or more and more and more blessings. My deepest prayer is to become less needy of  material wealth, less a follower or pursuer of consumerism. I want to seek and  delight in the simplest things.   I am looking for that church that emphasises the humility of Christ, one that teaches me to forsake material pursuit for spiritual growth, and without dangling the carrot of worldly wealth. I need teachings that encourages and challenges me to recognise my abundant blessings , be content with it, and focus more on being a blessing to others.

Relationship Advice for my Son

  1. Pay on the first date!! What the hell is wrong with you!! But If she offers to go half she may be a keeper.
  2. Any woman worth marrying isn’t looking for a knight in shining armour. She has her own shit together thanks.
  3. You will love me for teaching you how to cook, because no one wants to marry an incompetent idiot.
  4. Stingy men are ugly.
  5. Your father has a way of zoning out of arguments, learn this trick, it still amazes me, I suspect this skill prevents stress.
  6. Confidence has nothing to do with Mama and boy
  7. You are only 2 and a half but I can tell that skinny jeans isn’t for your genes.
  8. Take fashion advice from your wife. Never experiment without her approval.
  9. If you marry a white girl please pleaseeeeeeeeeee make sure she learns how to pronounce your name, including your middle name Abdul-Farouk – this is my only request .

Relationship Advice for my Daugther

  1. mama and daughter
  1. You are responsible for your own happiness. Happiness is a choice.
  2. You can call your mother in-law mum till you are blue in the face. But you only have one mother.  Me.  Only one woman gatz you like that.
  3.  You get the friends you deserve. If all your friends are mean, shitty or backstabbing bitches, it’s time to check yourself.
  4. Your life should not revolve around your husband, your children, or your career. Find a balance. Don’t forget your own needs.
  5. It’s okay not to want to have children. This is not your purpose on earth. It is a choice.
  6. He who pays the piper calls the tunes. No matter how much he loves you, if you are financially dependent on him; without your own interests or income, trust me,  you will soon become a bore, a liability, a nuisance.
  7. No man worth marrying wants an obedient and submissive partner. Till they die men like the chase, the excitement, the challenge! as do we.
  8. Don’t let him dictate or direct your fashion sense – why would you want to give someone else power over a key aspect of how you express yourself?
  9. Don’t suffocate him!! Let him pursue and enjoy interests outside of your union, as should you.
  10. Sex and food solves all arguments.Sent from my iPhone

Black People don’t do snow

 
 
 
Riri2 Riri1I follow Rihanna on Instagram, I know, I’m an agbaya.  But I love this chick for so many reasons I’ll discuss another day. Everytime Rihanna posts a picture on Instagram my fashion heart just melts, always on point always on F*** you mode. If the fashion doesn’t get me, the exotic locations do,  that’s until she started instagraming in the snow!! Now don’t get me wrong, the fashion as always was on point; the hat, the gloves, the colours – My God I love Rihanna, but the snow?  I rolled my eyes and kept scrolling,  where are my bodybuilders jor  – you need to follow bodybuilders on instagram!
 
My temporary indifference to Rihanna reminds me of the time my friend said in excitement  ” I’m going shopping for my holiday” . It was winter, I was immediately gripped with envy! Winter getaways are notoriously expensive, I couldn’t afford it, but man I needed some sun!! And then she said “we are so looking forward to skiing this year“.  I almost busted out laughing,  I didn’t. Instead, I rolled my inner eyes, all envy evaporating, not a holiday after all just ‘suffer head’. Quite frankly, that’s how a lot of us black people view skiing; a complete nonsensical sport,  not worth the risk to our limbs, let alone lives,  and certainly not worth the money!! But of course we all know black folks who really really enjoy skiing! that’s at least what they tell us,  and their oyinbo friends,  good for them! But as we Nigerians say ” Butter o se onje Obo” meaning  “Butter isn’t monkeys food”.
 
Someone asked me the other day if I wouldn’t even try skiing! I said if it was a free holiday I’d go along.  I’ve always wanted to wear those great fur hats and gloves.  And I do love looking out onto the snow in the comfort of my house,  so  I’ll happily enjoy being in a  warm cabin with an open fire, a glass of champagne, watching others play in the snow.
 
 
It’s not just the skiing thing.  My trainer asked me if I was following the winter Olympics, I told him straight up ‘ No’ I couldn’t care less about it! He laughed and said “Lola you would really like bla bla bla bla bla, you are quite sporty ” I rolled my eyes.  I didn’t know what half of the sports he listed were.  I barely understand figure skating; grown ass people in silly outfits twirling and prancing about on ice,  like children! I remember the day I actually went along with some friends and acquaintances to iceskate. I regretted it. For the entire duration of the torture,   I imagined myself falling down and crashing head first, smashing all my teeth, including my very expensive implants and destroying years of dental work. No. I’m in no hurry to go back to Hungry for dental work thanks. My trainer went on a bit, so I said look I’m African right, these sports are far removed from our interests, natural climate experience etc - my trainer said “I’m African too Lola” I couldn’t bite my tongue ” Yes Gavin, White South African” we both laughed and continued the training I enjoyed! Running, sprinting, weight lifting!
 
 
Listen right,  I have no problem with the winter Olympics or skiing but lets call a spade a spade, few  black people are interested in these sports.  Personally I think we should have the tropical Olympics!  I started this conversation on FB and I’ve since been educated  there are indeed a number of black nations participating in the winter olympics, I hear you laughing too,  even Togo is there!!! don’t ask.  When I dug a bit deeper nearly all the African representative were born abroad. Of course some smart ass is gonna jump on me and start telling me about snow peaks in the mountains of Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and even snow falls in Egypt, Tunisia and so forth but still who cares these are not common occurrences.
 
They say live and let live, so let the winter  olympic roll on, all sports are great right, but me sha I’m not interested.