To my friend, My single friend

So you’ve been eating out for the past six months since you got your new job that took you far away from your mother and from your girlfriend that loves cooking and can cook, (I believe you know there’s a difference). You eat at WhiteHouse during weekdays and Olaiya on weekends. Your friend recently introduced you to Babalola. You always enjoyed the orishirishi in your soup; goatmeat, chicken wings, shaki and ponmo with fresh fish. You love the point-and-kill peppersoup joint on Fridays. But Sundays are always nightmares for you. You are left with bread, noodles and drinks. The mishai in your area is your Sunday friend. You’ve bought readymade soup many times but you are somewhat not satisfied. You wish you could do something else apart from watching EPL and Laliga on those free weekends. Something for yourself. Like cooking. You know you can cook well. You learnt a lot from mama, at least the common meals. You cooked for the family when your big sister didn’t come home on time or when mama travelled. You didn’t cook during undergrad anyways since roomies always did collabo and thankfully there was always one bunkee that wasn’t so boxed up but could cook for Africa. So you guys would “cooperate” and he cooks. Moreover food was much cheaper in student cafeteria compared now to outside. You were not working for the money, you didn’t think about it. Now you are a white-collar worker and there’s no time to cook. Very decent entry salary but you are spending so much on buying meals. You can afford to, however you feel it is imprudent. So what do you do?

I advise you go to the market, buy a gas cooker, kitchen wares, foodstuff and do something. Cook! (Oh, were you expecting some out-of-this-world advice? lol). Most men don’t like cooking. I don’t. It’s stressful. Only one of my guys can cook well, the rest try but dem no sabi. And for this I love and adore any woman that loves cooking (again, and can cook). Sometimes I think it is a natural gift or ability for women to cook. But I discovered that men are great cooks. Facts say that the best chefs are mostly men! Well, dat one no konsain me. Don’t think it’s a base thing for you as a “metropolitan” or “woke” guy to cook. Reports say more American and British men cook at home now than 30 years ago. So calm down. See ehn you are not cooking for Africa. Just summon the courage and cook for yourself. You are the only one that will eat it afterall. Okay you may have unmarried friends who will not mind to partake. Just warn them beforehand if it is too peppery or salty, or watery, or burnt. Or tasteless. But I trust you can cook well or at least decently. And guess what? You have time to cook if only you will.

Now that you’ve decided. You’re not going for shopping in a mall where goods have price tags. You’re not buying condiments inside Lagos traffic. You’re going to the open market at Oyingbo where Iya Tawa is the pepper seller, Mama Onyinye is the ugu, ogbono and okporoko seller, Kamoru is the beef vendor and Abubakar is your onion or smoked fish retailer. You don’t have a housemaid to send. Poor bachelor! You are going yourself.

manmarket

There are some tips you should know on how to buy in Nigerian food and goods markets.

  • Pocket your fancy eye glasses if you use one. Else, to Kamoru you will look like a JJC or a mummy’s boy sent to the market for trials. Kamo will automatically double the meat price for you. Trust me even if you bargain, you will still buy at a higher price. So keep your glasses, you are not buying letters anyways. The goods are usually big enough for you to see from reasonable distance.
  • When you approach Mama Onyinye, don’t speak English, speak pidgin or igbo (if you can). Don’t approach them like you are one Anderson Cooper or an OAP with some accent. If you do, you will surely be a maga. Say “how mush u dey sell an”. Don’t wear suit o. Commot am.
  • Thirdly, and tricky, if you don’t know the price of a good or the seller called a ridiculous price that is more than double the estimated price, my rule is to think of a price that is ridiculous to you yourself. In other words, imagine yourself as the seller, and think of a lowly price that can make you hiss at a buyer. Yes. Offer that price. Usually the seller will react in some way or say something that you will know the embarrassment is very real. That is it. So seller says N4000, but estimated price is N2000, you say N1000. Now add a quarter of that offer to it and watch their reaction and what they say again, if no deal, add another quarter but never double the initial offer. And never initially offer to buy above the price you know or have in mind. It’s easier to step it up than down.
  • If the last tip doesn’t apply or didn’t work and you’re convinced that you have actually offered the market price in your negotiation, turn and walk away. Okay calm down. Have you taken like 6 steps away from the shop? Did the seller call you back? If yes, turn and hear her new price from that spot. If favourable, go back to the shop. If you were not called back, either you stop and go back to the shop or you try another shop if you like plenty waka. Most times prices in different stores in the same market are the same.

I should remind you to write down all the things you want to buy before setting out. So when you have bought everything you need, cook enough or more to store in your freezer. I don’t do this personally. Anything you do, please don’t eat cold food straight from the fridge except eba (And that’s if you are eating with hot igbo-type draw soup o. Only on Saturday morning though). In the end if you found out that you can’t even prepare an eatable meal for yourself. Please continue with your routine. Don’t poison yourself by yourself. Consider getting married soon. Mind you, we are all strongly considering same in our minds. I will write to you shortly concerning this because there is plenty to gist you.

Fist bumps

Your friend @bamsky007

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