BusinessDay

I am here for the small chops

In the middle of a week of national tragedies I have chosen to distract myself a little and talk about something that might cheer us up a little bit. From the beheading in Anambra, the killing of Harira to the killing of a sound engineer in Lagos, I wake up in the morning so afraid to look at the papers, and so afraid to check the online news. Who is next?

Last night, I watched international news with trepidation. 14 children and a teacher dead in a school premises in Texas. Shot by an 18-year old. America is shook but so is the rest of the world. There is too much to process and we should all protect our mental health. The tragedy of it all benumbs. So, today I will talk about something that gives me joy and hopefully bring a knowing smile to your faces. Let’s do this.

Last weekend, I was in Lagos for the wedding of a friend’s daughter. It was well done, well apportioned and exquisite. I was well positioned on the VVIP section where all the best gourmet meals were served. I also enjoyed the exciting company of my last daughter, Donatella. I was dressed to the nines and pleased that I could join a special family to celebrate their joy.

In fact, I have been told by some of my friends who are party animals in Lagos that they often tip the waiters so that their table will be the happening table

So, here we were enjoying the sites and sounds of a truly well organised Nigerian wedding, music, fashion and all when the waiters brought in the small chops.

Let me tell you about small chops which the French aptly refer to as Oed”hoevres. Sometimes, it’s called starters. But Nigerians, being the unique people that we are, long since Christine it, small chops. Unlike the French who have a wide variety, we traditionally have six staples – gizdodo, samosa, spring rolls, gizzard, stickmeat and puff-puff. Event caterers would serve it up in nice baskets or mini- plates. It is often much anticipated. Ahead of the main meal, it whets the appetite also accompanying small talk, chit chat with a new-found wedding neighbour. It is all so surreal. I love it.

I know many persons who feel incomplete without the small chop serving. Yes, I am one of them. I mean, what’s a Nigerian wedding reception without small chops. And if it doesn’t come as it sometimes happens, you are incensed. Some may ask – why were you skipped? Why is your neighbour smacking her lips while enjoying a shrimp-filled spring roll? Did you offend the waiters? Why have they skipped you and served everyone else? You watch as they approach a neighbouring table, the table behind you the table ahead of you and deliver the goods.

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So, like really? What’s going on? As a small chops aficionado, you stylishly try to catch the eye of the waiters. You know, you are a babe. You can’t be seen attacking a waiter for small chops sake. In fact, I have been told by some of my friends who are party animals in Lagos that they often tip the waiters so that their table will be the happening table. Merde!

For small chops I can wait endlessly, gently nudge the waiter, remind them and be the spokesperson for my table. Why would anyone forget a whole table for small chops. Impossible! I mean the succulent gizzard, crunchy samosas and puff puff from our childhood. It’s important that part of the wedding is well savoured before the main meal.

Yes, and mine arrived after a nod to the waiter (smile). We came for the small chops. Indeed, what is a Nigerian wedding without small chops and the fantastic cocktails. I truly had a ball. I would have been quite sour if I did not get my small chops but I did. In addition, I got the mains. Roast potatoes and a succulent steak with black peppercorn sauce, a rarity at Nigerian weddings. Sometimes we get tired of the smoky jollof rice, but we also come for the jollof.

Red oil, crayfish and red tomatoes. We truly are a good food people. When I travel I miss home. So, yes. Steak and potatoes! Good food. Good company. And a stylish wedding. Yes, I am always ready for the small chops. Congratulations to the Okpanachis. MD, Development Bank and his lovely wife, Ivie, as their daughter, the beautiful Daniella, hooked her beau, Gabriel Igbinosa.

The small chops were very good. Thank you very much!

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