Every now and then I'm reminded just how much of a loss to the world of gourmet cooking that my son's food allergy caused.
This year, owing to some unforeseens, as well as conflicting schedules and obligations among the boys, our birthday dinners were split and separated by a couple weeks from our actual birthdays. Nonetheless, my wife decided to build on our third son's request from a past birthday - an African menu. The boys got the ingredients, and my oldest spent a day working around an outpatient surgery and final exams preparing the meal.
This request was in part because of my son's involvement in that project I mentioned some months ago. He's been working on compiling information about African Muslim immigrant communities here in the central Buckeye State. The results of the project will be compiled and used for academic and government use. Among other things, that saw him step out of his introverted comfort zone and interview people from those communities.
In his class most of the students were of that bent - African, immigrant, Muslim, Middle Eastern, and so on. My oldest was an outlier, being mostly white, Anglo-American and Catholic. His professor was Nigerian, and the helped. Despite my son's demographics, we've had the opportunity to meet and get to know a variety of people from a variety of cultures over the years. And in that group, Nigeria has been well represented.
So while he made a generic 'African' (meaning south of the Mediterranean Sea) meal for his brother, this time he zeroed in and built the dinner strictly from Nigerian recipes he found:
|From L to R: Yum; Yum Yum; Yum, Yum, Yum; Fabulous!|
Except for the roast chicken, which was generic except for a Nigerian spice rub, the rest was straight from the Nigerian dinner table. They were each a separate main course combined into one meal. Lamb was the showcase meat of the hour, and the spices were, well, spicy. Not in a 'burn your mouth like a flamethrower' manner, but still able to bring tears to the eyes. All I can say is 'Yum!' I could eat like that every day of my life.
What a loss. I've told him there is no rule against developing many skills and talents in one's life, even if you don't make a living from them. Consider the late Vincent Price, who saw acting almost as a means to an end. For him, his great passions were art and gourmet cooking. Acting, as he once pointed out, merely paid the bills.
Whatever my son does in life, and I know where he's planning - I'm just not saying yet - it will never hurt if he can whip up a five star dinner for those around him on his journey. Just leave the fish.