If you are familiar with Kenikodjo stories, you’d know that the story probably has next to nothing to do with actual cooking. Sorry if you came expecting to find recipes and video tutorials. 🤪 And since I am familiar with Kenikodjo readers, I should also probably stop writing short stories with cliffhangers because you guys always want an ending. What is the fun in that? 😏 Cooking Class was exciting. Let’s see what Part 2 holds.
‘Steve, all I am asking is that you watch the kids for one night a week. Just one night. I do everything. Their food is already in the fridge. It just needs to be warmed. They do their homework in school. You literally have to just have to be in the same house with them for 4 hours. They are your kids, not some aliens from outer space-‘
She paused and made the mmhm sound, as though she was listening in on the other person.
‘Steve, just stop it. I have always put you and these kids first. You know that. Stop this emotional blackmail crap. All I want to do is this one thing and even then, you have to make it about you.’
She paused again and listened intently.
‘Actually, no. You don’t need a manual to spend time with your kids once a week. We discussed this. No, Steve, no. This stops today.’
She paused again.
‘Unbelievable! You see, this is the problem. We pick up after you and enable you, just like your mums did, and you grow up thinking that it is your right to do absolutely nothing. I need to go and chop vegetables and whisk eggs. Goodbye Steve.’
Akorfa hung up and instantly realized that the entire class had heard her conversation.
You need to stop raising your voice, Akorfa. Now everyone is in your business. Never mind, just shake it off and make the best quiche lorraine they’ve ever seen.
‘Men are trash. I keep saying that.’, Letitia said as soon as Akorfa walked back in.
The men in the class expressed their disapproval.
‘No, you see, the problem is that all of you are entitled. Whether you realize it or not, society has made it okay for you to get away with things that are somehow an abomination for women to even think about.’
Akorfa kept her head down as she chopped her carrots into tiny cubes. Letitia and the rest of the class could have a discussion on gender roles and double standards for all she cared. She was here to make her dream a reality and nobody was going to stop her, not Steve, not anyone.
Bruce had too much on his mind to listen to Letitia’s voice and remember what temperature the oven needed to be at before popping in his quiche lorraine.
Why am I still here?
After a month of lessons, he had gathered enough confidence to whip up a meal that was guaranteed to sweep Ayebea off her feet. He took a day off work and slaved away in his mother’s kitchen all day. The meal wasn’t too complicated but fancy enough to impress her.
Banku, okro stew and banana cake for dessert.
She loved freshly baked pastry. She also loved the ‘swallows’- banku, fufu, omo tuo, kenkey. She loved men who could cook. It was guaranteed to win, just like placing a bet with 1.15 odds on a Barca vs Huesca game.
Time check. 4:50pm.
He told her to get there at 5:30 but knowing Ayebea, she would be knocking at his door by 5:15. He lowered the fire under the okro stew and dashed to the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later, Ayebea was at the front door.
‘Hey Bru- mmh!! Wait, is that cinnamon I smell? Did you bake? Oh my goodness, I get first dibs on Chef Bruce’s cooking? This must be my lucky day.’
She grinned and started bouncing like a 5 year old who has had too much sugar. He grinned as well because it was cute to watch.
‘Can I have dessert first? I promise there is enough room in my stomach for everything you have prepared. I have a four chamber stomach, remember?’
‘Yeah, I remember. There was this one time you beat Horace at the kenkey eating thing. I can still see the look on his face in my mind’s eye.’
She nodded, with her mouth full of banana cake.
‘Bruce, this is actually really good. Wow! Impressive! We could start a business, you know? It is soft and moist and- heavenly. I love it. Great job!’
‘Glad you like it. Actually, I have something to tell you.’
‘I’m all ears. I think I am ready for my banku now. See, I told you! Four chamber stomach.’, she said, pointing at her stomach region.
‘I went to cooking school because of you.’
‘Because of me?’
She looked shocked.
‘Yes. You tweeted about loving a man who could cook. I have been in love with you for as long as I can remember. I figured if you wanted a man that could cook, I was going to learn how to cook, because you deserve the best.’
His eyes moved from his hands to her face. Her fingers were stuck in mid-air, with the palm oil from the okro stew trickling from her first morsel of banku right down to her wrist. Her left hand was in her hair. She was tagging at one of her twists, the way she usually did when she was deep in thought.
‘Erm, I am speechless.’
‘Is that a good thing or a bad thing?’
‘I don’t know, Bruce. On one hand, I am beyond gobsmacked that you think I deserve the best in the world, and that you signed up for cooking class just because of me. It is sweet and touching and — I can’t even find the words. That is what makes this part sad. That tweet-‘
She paused and brushed her forehead with the back of her hand.
Sighing, she continued,’ I tweeted that because the guy I like cooked dinner for me and his parents. It didn’t even turn out that great but I appreciated the effort. Yes, I know. It is crazy. I met someone and I didn’t mention it, and now I have met his parents. I feel terrible because my tweet about a guy I like has made the guy who likes me learn how to cook because of me. I know I am rambling and I am not making a lot of sense, and I wish I could undo all of this because-‘
‘Ayebea, don’t- don’t do that. Don’t beat yourself up. You had no idea I liked you or that I was learning to cook because of you. I can’t blame that guy for introducing you to his parents. I should have introduced you to my mum a long time ago. Finders, keepers. That is what they say. Don’t worry- I will finish the class anyway. Whoever I marry will have you to thank for my impeccable cooking skills.’
He convinced her to finish her food and pack some of the cake for tomorrow. He brushed off her ‘Are you sure you are okay?’ with a ‘I am fine. Don’t worry. I am fine, I promise.’ When the door shut behind her, he walked to the sink, lowered his hands into the warm soapy water and stood there for a long time.
Who am I kidding? I am not fine. The love of my life has a love of her life and it is not me. I am just her really sweet friend who can make banku and okro the way she likes it, and banana cake that transports her to heaven. What kind of zone is this? On top of all this, the guy can’t even cook well. I am supposed to just show up for the next class with the same energy? The whole class knows I was learning to impress her. Now what? No, I am not fine.
Suddenly he didn’t have the energy to watch the Barca v Huesca game anymore.
Kobena called today.
No, I didn’t pick up. I think it is not good for my mental health to encourage him to waltz into my life again. Besides, at 54, I should be more in control of my life. This cooking class is going great. Most of the students actually have talent and other people are actually interested in signing up for the next one, that is if I can amass enough self-discipline to organize another one.
The problem with Kobena is that he knows all my buttons. I was too vulnerable with him. Plus I need something to occupy myself with, when I close from these classes.
Should I adopt a baby? Naah, Letitia don’t be silly. After 3 months, you will forget to prepare food for the poor child. Babies don’t drink Jack Daniels, remember? Plus, getting a baby isn’t a hobby you pick up because you are bored.
Maybe I should get a pet. Alternatively, I could focus on baking something complicated and fall into bed exhausted so that I don’t entertain such morbid thoughts.
He is calling again. Don’t pick up…and yet somehow my fingers are picking up the call.
‘Hello Kobena? Sorry I missed your call.’
This is a disaster! Gourmet chef my foot! Who sent me to lie in the first place?
Lesson number 1: the next time you are tempted to lie, consider how easy or cheap it is to maintain that lie. This lie had already cost Pomaa 2500 cedis, plus the other costs that she has not factored into the budget- Uber rides to and from the class, a second round of ingredients because she always got it wrong on the first try and more frequent salon visits. Her acrylic nails needed re-fixing at the end of each week.
Lesson number 2: Know what you are getting into. She didn’t realize how difficult it was to actually cook like a gourmet chef- you know, with your heart and soul- and a generous sprinkling of natural talent. The day she learnt how to poach an egg, she actually burst into tears when the rest of the class applauded. It had taken her no less than 30 different attempts to finally pull it off. It looked so easy on that cooking show on DSTV that she was convinced that it would just take a few seconds to pull it off.
Lesson 3: Don’t keep lying. She had managed to pull off dinner with the crew and it had actually turned out great. Everyone talked about how delicious everything was and how well garnished each dish was. When they were having dessert (lemon meringue pie which she ordered from Koala’s bakery, with vanilla ice cream), one of the girls mentioned that she has a party in a month’s time.
Out of nowhere, she proposed that Pomaa be the one to cater for the event. That was her cue to say no, or to act like her calendar was full, or to even come clean and say that all of this was a scam. Once again, her tongue went on a frolic of its own and promised to send menus via email so they could discuss what exactly to serve. She wanted to impress the newbie that one of the guys brought along, the cute architect that had complimented her cooking three times already.
This nightmare is just getting worse! Sweet Jesus! Hopefully nobody asks me which year I completed my course at Le Cordon Bleu.