We are in our first year of marriage. A lot of people said that the first year of marriage was difficult and I anticipated it. Even at counselling, our counsellor mentioned it, “The first year is always difficult. That is the time surprises begin to show up. You may think you know your partner but living together as husband and wife is different from living apart as boyfriend and girlfriend. You get to learn new things every day and these things can surprise the hell out of you. It’s the first year disease, you need to handle it with care.” I was informed so I got ready to face the first year with all my might but little did I think that the difficulty was going to come from one innocuous question, “What will you like to eat?”
When I was living alone, I cooked what I wanted to eat. On days I didn’t feel like eating, I went out and bought what I felt like eating. When Maxwell and I were just lovers, we didn’t have the issue as to what we were going to eat. He’ll visit, I’ll serve what I have, and life goes on from there. When I visited him and he wanted to impress me, he cooked some jollof that ended up tasting like a garden of pepper but I gave him 100% for his effort. From there, he would buy food from the outside or the two of us would step out and find something to eat.
Here we are as a married couple and I’m expected to cook for my husband every day. I know his favourite is rice. When we were dating he told me himself, “You can keep me in a room for a whole year and I wouldn’t mind as far as there’s rice. I can eat rice in the morning, afternoon and evening and I would be fine.” I had that thing in mind so when this marriage started, rice became the main staple in this house. I will prepare different stews and even soup so we would be eating them with rice until one evening I served him and he asked me, “Today too we are going to eat rice?”
I was confused because it wasn’t rice I cooked that evening. I said, “But this is not rice? This is rice balls and we are going to eat it with soup so it’s different from the dry rice we ate last evening.” He started recounting all the days that we’d eaten rice. It looked like the whole week we ate rice. We ate jollof, we ate plain rice and stew, we ate fried rice, we ate rice and palm nut soup and that evening we topped it up with rice balls. Everything ended up having rice in it. When I came to that realization, I understood his question and told him, “From tomorrow onward, you can tell me what you want to eat and I will cook it for you.”
When we were going to work, I asked him, “What are you going to eat this evening?” He didn’t say anything at first so I thought he was thinking of what to say. For a long while, he was not saying anything so I asked again, “What did you say you’ll eat this evening?” He answered, “Anything.” I asked him, “What is anything? Anything means nothing until you give it a name.” He answered, “Just think about anything. Food is food. I will eat whatever you cook.”
I came home and I was thinking of what to cook. “What can I cook that isn’t rice?” All the food that came to mind were heavy foods. We come home after 6pm. It would be ridiculous to eat fufu at that time or even eat banku so I ended up doing something small with rice for him. He ate it without complaint. At the Weekend we did fufu. He’s not a fan of that so I ended up eating the whole thing myself. When I get overwhelmed, I will go out there and get him waakye or something. He doesn’t like eating outside food so he ended up complaining.
Not too long ago, it was a weekend so I asked him, “What are you going to eat this weekend, make a list so I cook them for you. Again he said, “I will eat whatever you cook.” I said, “Nooo, I won’t take that answer from you. Say something. I’m going to the market so I shop according to what you’ll eat. Don’t let me come back and you start complaining about what I cook.” He got angry. “Ain’t you a woman? Do I have to think about everything around here and also think about food? Don’t you know what people eat when they are home? My friend, don’t come and disturb me with food.”
I slowly walked out of the room and headed to the market. Stew and soup are the most important things for me. Once those are sorted, we can eat anything with them. I bought a little bit of everything else so we can prepare something else that isn’t rice. After eating banku, ampesi and fufu the following day, we came back to rice. It was at that point I got to the realization that all we had in this world are these dishes. The rest are just different versions of the same food.
I can see my husband is already tired of eating what I cook. There’s no excitement in him when I call him to come and eat. Sometimes, he’ll remix what I cook and get something slightly different but in the end, it’s the same thing. For instance, he’ll ask me to fry riped plantain and add it to his rice. The last time I suggested we should go out and eat, he told me, “It looks like you don’t know what to do with money, right?”
We don’t go out to eat. I’m not a professional chef or an alchemist to put one and two together to get four. I can only cook what I ate in my parents’ kitchen and those are the foods he complains they are not exciting. That aside, he won’t mention what he’ll eat. If you ask what he’ll eat he’ll get angry. Now, I’m here asking myself, “What do other women cook for their husbands?” Those of you who have been married for ten years going to eternity, what have you been feeding your husbands that they don’t find boring? Apart from rice foods, maize foods and the fufu family, what else do you cook to excite your for-better-for-worse husbands?
Now I dread new days because it comes with an empty stomach that has to be filled. It comes with the same question as to what we are going to eat, a question my husband doesn’t want to hear, a question whose answer I always look for. What’s the secret? What kitchen secrets are you keeping from someone like me who just started this marital journey? Help a sister wai, na I’m already stressed