The City Circle – Much Ado About Jollof


I spent the festive period in the kitchen. And we did not travel to the village o! Anyways, my mom who sat and watched while I cooked most of the time tried to engage me in the usual marriage conversation (single ladies, raise your hand if you had this conversation during the holidays)

She started. “We need to teach you how to cook other delicacies apart from Jollof rice, you know what they say about the way to a man’s heart, how are you going to find a man with only jollo…”

“Mom, abeg abeg we? Who is “we”? ….”I didn’t let her finish.

I had a mental picture of me on the mainroad with a bowl of Jollof rice in hand, searching for a man and it made me hiss. You see, my mom does not cook. That chore has been shared unequally between my dad and I since I can remember. He likes to cook and I have to cook when he is not around. I am only happy to cook when I am called upon to make Jollof rice which I think sums up enough culinary prowess to grant me passage into any man’s heart. (Yes I said it. My Jollof rice is badt like that).

I found my talent for Jollof rice in 2010 but quickly abandoned it in favour of vegetable soup. Now that I think of it, I don’t know what my mom was talking about. I can cook other things too… anyways, back to Jollof. With the media frenzy and constant hype of the staple food, I had to tap back into my Jollof talent and our love affair’s waxing stronger every day. There are so many hush hush secrets and methods to the art of Jollof rice preparation. And there is the constant pressure to surpass the success of your previous pot of rice. So most days, ladies (and gentlemen like my dad) are on the internet, Tv, searching for ways to enhance our Jollof cooking skills. Because you cannot carry last in this Jollof race. If you sleep on the bicycle for too long, you’ll find yourself making Ghanaian Jollof (no shade intended) in a Lagos home. One day you will wake up and the Jollof ship has sailed….it is that serious. The number of brands churning out “Jollof rice spice” nowadays… because once the shopper passes by a shelf and sees “spice for Jol…” gold niyen.

Wherever you find a pot (or plate) of orange rice, there’s a hash tag for husband/wife material (mostly 100 yards) beside it. So many memes for “when bae makes Jollof rice” and there’s the ongoing battle between two countries over this rice.

Jollof is the cheat in this “way to a man’s heart” struggle. If it comes down to “the cooking skills or no husband”, do not even fret. Just take a crash course on Jollof and you’re in… Jollof to the rescue!  There is no inappropriate occasion to cook and eat Jollof Rice.

She is economically friendly. Jollof does not discriminate. Snails, chicken, panla and sardine can play together with Jollof. She can sit with you at Iya Ijebu and Radisson Blu. Jollof has friends in high places.She is popular with Tech entrepreneurs, world class billionaires, (ask Mark Zuckerberg), oil tycoons…nobody is immune or allergic to Jollof rice (I dare you!)  Jollof has class and standards. You cannot treat her anyhow or she will tarnish your culinary image. Jollof is the mistress that has turned to family. She has her own day (August 22). She is the queen of rice. Period.

I wonder who told this Orange rice that she can be / cause all these things. Who elevated Jollof Rice? (Taste buds. duh!). Who is attaching all this importance to Jollof? How can we just let Jollof waltz into our lives and take over like this? Where did this Jollof craze start from?

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