The inspiration for this was simple: I thought about my university days when I kept burning food until the neighbours banned me from using the hostel’s electric cooker. I wanted to tell them that I could cook, and that mistakes happen, but they didn’t listen to me.
I decided to ask people for stories about their own cooking disasters, and I was right: I’m not the only one with cooking wahala.
I went to visit man. He was not my boyfriend, but I had a crush on him and was desperate to impress him, so I decided to show my ‘wifely’ skills by cooking. He suggested that we eat out, but I refused and said I’d rather cook, so he agreed.
I planned to make palm oil stew. I put oil on fire, and I totally forgot about it because I went to clean. Yes, I cleaned too. It was while I was cooking that the palm oil caught fire and burnt the kitchen curtain, and I did not know, because I was busy cleaning. When I saw him dash towards the kitchen, I stood in the doorway and wondered what was happening until it occurred to me.
He put out the fire, but I could not bring myself to look at him. I just sat quietly on the couch until it was over. When he looked at me, he had this “I don’t know what to say” expression on his face. I wanted to die of shame. Later when I entered the kitchen, I met a blackened pot, half burnt curtain and an equally blackened wall. There were splashes of oil on the floor too. He refused to clean that one.
Honestly, I’m a great cook. It’s just that my village people work overtime.
I started that week with burning Semo until it looked like cracker biscuit.
That same week, I burnt meat and when I wanted to pour water into the pot, the whole meat poured into sand and became useless. I thought that was all, but my village people crowned it off with beans.
That day, I decided to cook beans in a pressure cooker, instead of a gas cooker. I figured that the gas cooker will be faster. After measuring beans inside the cooker and estimating the time it would get done, I went inside to watch TV. Soon, I started smelling something but I disregarded it because I still had like 10 minutes more according to my estimation, so I focused on the TV I was watching.
When the smell got stronger, I went outside to check. It was a beans bath. The pressure cooker exploded and sprayed beans across the compound. My neighbours thought it was raining. But there was more. The cover broke the slate roof in the next house. It cost my parents 10k to fix that roof. We repainted another neighbour’s wall too. Then I treated light burns. For one month they called me Burna Girl at home. My mom still kept the pot to remind me of my shame.
When I was in 100 level, my roommates always teased me about not knowing how to cook. I wanted to prove that I could, and so I decided to prepare Jollof rice. But I got so nervous that I forgot to add salt and tomato paste to the rice. Imagine Jollof rice without tomato paste and salt for over 12 people. I didn’t leave town for a week.
My mum came up with the suggestion that everyone, including my dad, must cook for the family that week. On Friday, I was to cook beans. Thursday, I picked it, washed and stored in the freezer. Come Friday, I started cooking. My beans was almost soft and it was time to sieve it and start putting the ingredients, but I wanted mine to be unique. I remembered that I read somewhere that some people cooked beans with sugar so I decided to try it. I put in some cube. I sliced onions and fresh pepper, added my crayfish, dried fish, maggi and scent leaves. While it was boiling I started thinking to myself: “Since they will take the beans with pap and the pap will have milk, why not kuku add the milk into the beans?”
I was preparing my milk when my dad caught me. Still, I added it and he went to tell my mum. She came, looked at it and started complaining. I told her it would turn out fine. My younger sister said she was going somewhere with her friend so she left. When the food was ready and I told my parents, they said they’d eat it later. But they never did, because I caught my mum eating corn flakes afterwards. I assume my dad hid and ate something else too, because he too didn’t eat the food. The whole four cups of beans wasted because I couldn’t eat it either.
In 300 level, my mom gave me quarter bag of local rice. That was my first time with local rice and I wanted to make a badass Jollof rice with it. I planned well before cooking, got all the right ingredients. When it was time to cook, I didn’t parboil the rice because I assumed it was going to be like foreign rice. The first thing I noticed was that the rice remained hard after pouring gallons of water. After that came this horrible smell. And then rice eventually got burnt. I took the first bite and it ended in tears. I learened my lesson: never use local rice to make Jollof rice.
When I was just learning the art of cooking, I was very “creative” with my thinking. I wanted to prepare the kind of food I saw on cooking shows. I got home and saw Irish potato. I boiled it without any seasoning. I roasted some scent leaves, sprinkled a little bit of ata gun gun on it. I cringe at the memory of what I thought was a culinary masterpiece.
I was into a guy one time and on the way to his house, there was a market. That was how I began craving rice and vegetable sauce. I decided to stop at the market for some vegetables. I thought the vegetables I bought was a different brand of ugu, but it was when vegetable sauce began to draw that I realised that I goofed. I jejely poured it away and made stew.
Once I made “special rice”, by just mixing and putting stuff into the pot and these random things included a ginger, garlic and lemon water. It turned out nice. So I tried to cook it again, this time the lemon was overcooked and my rice became bitter. It tasted like rice and lemon, a very disastrous combination.
I used black Cameroon pepper to cook beans porridge, and I ended up cooking the blackest beans I have ever seen.
Since I moved into my apartment, I have been hosting friends and posting whatever food I cooked on my status. A friend of mine saw the photos and said she would come visiting. She asked me to cook Jollof rice. I went to the market, got the ingredients and the chicken.
I don’t have a measuring cup, so I always use a drinking cup to measure rice. That day, I don’t know if I over-measured the rice or under-measured it. I just noticed that it kept rising as I parboiled it. When I tried to put the rice in the Jollof sauce, I realised it was too much. But I went ahead all the same, thinking that the sauce would compensate. Halfway through cooking, I realized the sauce was not enough. The rice was a very pale yellow colour. What was worse, it was overcooked, soft, and mouldy, looked like oats. I simply picked out the chicken pieces, rinsed them and prepared a new pepper sauce that I sprinkled on them. That was what my guest ate when she visited.
It was in Nkrumah hostel, UNN. I was making spaghetti bolognese. I was done boiling the spaghetti and was preparing to make stew. The hostel room was small, as was the corner I kept all my utensils in. My pots and pans stayed under the bed, while my foodstuff was kept at the bottom part of my locker. My washing things kept near the stove.
So, in the process of making the stew, I reached for the salt, added it to the sauce, put some water and covered it to boil. Behold, it was Klin, not salt. It was detergent I put in my stew. When I opened the pot, foam bubbles everywhere. A hot embarrassing mess.
It was in 2017, and I was learning how to cook. I followed so many people on IG, and each time I saw their food pictures, I would think to myself, “You can do it.”
This way, I tried okro, and other foods. Because they turned out well, I decided to try buka stew next. I asked my boyfriend who was with me in the house, if he knew how to bleach palm oil. He said yes. But then he was busy and didn’t seem to have my time, so I wanted to prove that I did not need him. I put the oil in the pot, placed it on fire and then went outside to cut tomatoes. I was there when I started seeing smoke. When I ran inside, the whole pot was on fire, and there was no way to put off the gas. I screamed and the neighbours came in to help. My boyfriend poured sand to quench the fire. Suffice to say, that was the last time I tried buka stew. Now, I just watch people making it and that’s all. If I crave it, I go out to buy it.
When I was growing up, my family dedicated Saturday mornings for pap and akara or moimoi. So, once we wake up in the morning, you know it’s time to start picking beans. The process was complicated but also simple. Pick the beans, soak them for hours, peel them, take to the grinding place, return back home, add the necessary condiments, and fry if it was akara or cook if it was moimoi.
My brother and I were really fascinated about the whole process. We used to fantasize about it. So one day, our parents travelled and we wanted to surprise them. My brother and I decided to fry akara. We did the entire process from soaking to peeling to washing and grinding. I don’t know what exactly went wrong, but we ended up burning most of the akara while frying it. Still, we believed in our efforts. When our parents returned and we presented the akara to them, they were far from being pleased. Instead of being surprised by our efforts, they were surprised at how much beans we wasted. They flogged us so much that I knew I’d never do it again.
I got a lot of answers that didn’t make it into the post. But here’s the original Twitter thread if you still want to laugh more. The quoted replies are hilarious: