The semester had just ended. I clicked submit on the online class grading system, and welcomed summer break by shifting my attention to something I hadn’t given much thought to throughout the year. Food!
During the year, it’s easy to fall into the routine of rice and stew or some kind of pasta. But this time I thought to myself, “I want some red beans and rice!……and some curried goat!” I don’t even eat goat like that, but it definitely became my obsession. After a quick google search, I discovered Yummy Medley.
After seeing recipes for foods ranging from Jamaican to Ghanian to Eritrean dishes, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by this blogger. Years later, I am using my blog to talk about Lois.
I guess I assumed Lois confined herself to her kitchen all day, coming up with delicious recipes for me to try. Turns out, she is currently pursuing her doctorate in Nutrition and Clinical & Translational Sciences. But make no mistake about it Lois’s first love is food.
Though she grew up in Lagos, her mother was from Akwaibom (South South region of Nigeria, close to Cameroun). Growing up in Nigeria and travelling to connect with her mother’s side of the family, she had the opportunity to enjoy different delicacies offered in a country with over 300 dialects. It is possible her appreciation began there, but Lois says her experience at Howard University as an international student opened her palate more to other cultural delicacies. She would visit and spend holidays with school friends from different countries, taste their food, and think of how to recreate it in her world.
After encouragement from her husband she started her blog–anonymously while she was working as an economic policy analyst. . . .Fun! No, not really. Though Lois definitely had the mathematical chops to be successful in that career, she wasn’t enjoying it as much as creating meals and watching others enjoy it. Her love for food was so deep that she’d find herself asking strangers for recipes!
An African immigrant, Lois finds appreciation in the multiculturalism of the American foodscape. From Black American cuisine to South American or sometimes Asian cuisines, Lois finds a way to connect her readers to the shared enjoyment of culture and culinary art. In so doing she draws us into a curious celebration of transnationalism. For example, when we hear spring roll, most of us might think East Asia (e.g. China, Thailand). Her recipe for the Nigerian spring roll reformats our mental pictures. Her Fonio grits and shrimp recipe is a spin off of the Southern Black American dish using a grain popular in Senegal and Burkina Faso.
Undoubtedly being in America has influenced the kind of dishes Lois makes, but also the way she understands herself. Lois shared that having come from Nigeria, she hadn’t fully understood the lived experience of Black people here because in her words she ” wasn’t as exposed to the disparities” while in Nigeria. Most people who dream of coming to the States imagine a land of opportunity and do not have the sociological tools to even fathom to realities of lived life for those who do not meet the “status quo”. Her classes at Howard taught her about different kinds of privilege, including classism. Her experience at Howard taught her empathy, and helped her see she was a part of a whole, not a singular entity. And it seems this belief emerges even in her blog where the connections between continents are celebrated. Though inspired by her multicultural experience here Lois shared that she has become bolder in her own identity.
Make no mistake about it. Lois is a proud African. Like many immigrants Lois sees herself as transnational, crossing not only geographical borders, but cultural ones as well. Right now America is her home, but she is open to wherever her mission takes her. Whereas she is grateful for the opportunities that being in America affords her, she also hopes to use her platforms and resources to amplify African voices and advocate for social justice in Nigeria. In time, she hopes to return to Nigeria and serve her community back home, especially in nutrition education. Her current research examines iron deficiencies and cardiovascular disease among Black populations. I am not surprised. The work of an immigrant is rarely about themselves, but their community. How much would America, the Beautiful benefit from this framework.