My Hidden Passion Found A Home in Love

Marvelous Ndigwe

© Copyright 2018 by 
Marvelous Ndigwe

Photo of her homemade carbonara.

This story, as the name implies, tells of how love can change the course of a person’s belief, to what they like but are denying its reality. Its central focus was on the love of cooking, but it is relatable to other areas of life where we tend to numb but need attention. It’s a story that will bring its readers fun and a need to search deep into themselves to find that hidden passion.

Dang! Things and lifestyle do change, nothing stays forever, except for real love, I can relate. My story of going from being indifferent towards cooking to a lover of new food recipes, tells it all. I have never been a fan of eating healthy. So I did not care if I ate out a thousand times or if I went on snacks for a month. Maybe that's why I am slim, who knows?

But it wasn't always like this; something soiled my heart. I grew up a teenager in a household of seven. And being the fifth child of the family, you would not expect me to be seen so much in the kitchen. And yes I wasn't found there most of the times. But like every child tries to find her niche, I did likewise but then concluded, you know what? Cooking is not my thingy. The reason being that I felt maybe the lack of appreciation I perceived whenever I try to cook means that I can never be a good cook.

It wasn't until I got a job in a remote area in Thailand, where eating out was impossible, that I found my love for cooking. Now, when I share my newest food recipes with my friends they are like, Marv you have changed a lot. Everything changes but powerful love knocks-off fear and it comes to stay.

As a Nigerian girl child, I am expected to know how to cook to keep my body and family healthy. But then I wasn't taught how to cook most of our foods because I was living in a boarding high school. Our main meals are essentially meats, fishes, cassavas, yams and a few chicken eggs for appetizers. We have this famous saying, if a child eats a lot of egg, he or she becomes a criminal.

Some of our dishes are time-consuming, and I wasn't always around my mum or sister when they are cooking. It is either I am away to school, or I am preparing for a test. On my own whenever I get the chance to cook, I will cook what I saw someone cooking.

My mum thinks my cooking was an epic fail, she would request for some slice of bread instead of my food. I always didn't feel great about this, but that was my reality. That was my distasteful beginning to hating cooking.

I concluded that cooking was not for me. So, I started avoiding opportunities to cook. For Instance, if I am asked to make a dish, I had one defense mechanism, which is that I am reading. I happen to be one of the brilliant children of our household. So, whenever I give the excuse that I am studying, my mum would always root for me by telling my siblings to let me be. By the way, I felt I found my niche. I could study till daybreak, so, I will make it thrive above cooking. I didn't see it was possible to combine both of them.

Fast forward, to my undergraduate days in Assumption University in Thailand. One thing to note, my mum lives in Nigeria, and my dad lives in Thailand. My brother and I had to go live with my dad in Bangkok. I thought that was my opportunity to let myself experience the joy of cooking. But like my mum, each time I cook my dad will also request for bread instead. What is happening to my parents? They don't know they were hurting my feelings.

One day my dad refused to drive me to school because he said my food was not delicious. That was a head-banger for me, it threw me off balance. So, I stopped cooking.

In Thailand, street foods are cheap, and I could eat all I wanted, provided that I had the money to buy them.

My major in the university was nursing science. If there is anything at all, nursing robs you of it. Now, schooling takes the most of my time, and I continued drifting far away from cooking. I had to get a better G.P.A because you know, I am all about the books. I could not miss a hospital practicum, or I would redo the course again. I wake up at 5 am to catch the bus to school and then come back home sometimes, at 10 pm. And I would still have my study time in the midnight. Tell me what time do I have to cook? My fear was justified.

But you know, having great friends who challenge you, can bring out that very love you never felt existed. So whenever we have any breaks, my friends and I will gather together for some girls’ time out. We all have our roles. I was the stricter friend that doesn't do the cooking but the testing and eating of the foods. But whenever I am asked to cook, I always see it as a privilege that my parents didn't give me.

So, after so much denial and self-accusation, I broke the fear. I made a Carbonara with parmesan cheese, eggs, and parsley leaf. However, I didn't invite family but my friends.

Wow! It feels like yesterday. They ate all of the carbonaras I made. I felt like heaven celebrated me with a gold medal. I can do this more often I said to myself but again only with my friends.

You might think that from that experience that I would have become a food guru. No, I didn't. After my studies, I went back to Nigeria. But for one year, I did not cook, but yes I was eating what others cooked. Though the truth was, I now had more confidence in my cooking skills than ever before.

One day, I challenged myself to cook for my mum pasta with tomatoes sauce. I mean, I was eager to hear what she has got say to me. Well, she did not ask for slices of bread similar to what she would do previously. She ate up the entire portion of food. It was astonishing to me. You see! Love can ignite a hidden passion. Yes, I knew it, I won the ultimate test.

Moving on, I came back to Thailand, and I got a job in a remote area in the province of Surat Thani. The nearest mini supermarket was 5 kilometers far. I didn't have close neighbors, so there was no way eating out would ever be an option. The worst thing was, I had signed a contract for one year. Therefore, I was bound to my signature. I was stuck!

Although somehow, my breakthrough began.

First, I found out that I am becoming interested in food ingredients. I would spend hours watching food networks and then try them out on my own.

Things changed or somewhat got mixed up, eating healthy all of a sudden became my priority. The results I always get marveled me. I would cook more, just to spice of foods and bring versatility to my cooking. As I put on the energy to cook what I love to eat at that moment, I learn more and love exceedingly the act and art of cooking.

Now when I post the food I made on my Whatsapp status, my friends will go, Marv, you made that? And I always humbly but joyfully say, yes I did! Like a child that found a new niche, I also tell them how much I love my new hobby-- cooking.

All of these things were great, but the game changer was when I started getting calls for a food reciepe. Oh wow! I now teach people especially my friends how to make the foods or beverages of their choices all from scratch.

I now know, my loss of interest in cooking, was not because it was a waste of time, but I did not get appreciated with every effort I made towards it. However, I am always thrilled whenever I go down my cooking memory lane, only to realize that love stirs up changes and calls the deep denied passions--come alive. And yes I still eat and breathe books too.

Marvelous Ndigwe is a Nursing by profession and an uprising writer. She discovered her passion for writing, as an undergraduate of Nursing Science. She has contested for several essays and writing competition and has won several honors and certificates. Her first work “why not let them live?”  was published in her school publication called Galaxy. She can also boast of coaching other aspiring writers.

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