By Chika Unigwe—

In all my memories of childhood, two things stand out: dodo and a notebook. I loved to write. And fried plantain was my favourite food. A combination of both, on any day, was paradise. We did not have dodo everyday—my mother (like all responsible adults) believed in balanced meals—and I did not get to write stories everyday (there was school and afterschool lessons, and friends to play with). I spent all my childhood impatiently waiting to grow up.

Really I should have begun by saying that dodo is my favourite food. And I love to write. Those two loves never left me. Their hold on me has been quite tenacious and talking about them in the past is misleading because it suggests that my love affair with them is over. Love is selfish. Love demands to be fed. My love for dodo and writing has become ravenous with age. These days, I do not have to depend on my mother to provide the plantain.

I create my own menu for me (and it is usually dodo), no stew, no egg, nothing to spoil the pleasure of enjoying the world’s best food. I am a full time writer and so plan my day around it. Everyday is paradise for me now: a plate of dodo and my computer, eating and typing away. Dodo is—I’ve been told—the favourite food of the Muse of fiction.

That is not to suggest that I feed my family dodo every day. I am a rather sensible, responsible adult. I have a sketch of the food pyramid stuck on my fridge. I know all about the benefits of mixing food groups and making sure that children eat a bit from all the groups (I don’t make my children eat beans though, I think that is taking responsibility too far), but I am not quite so responsible when it comes to myself. Dodo is a jealous lover. And nothing else goes quite so well with writing.


First published in Saraba magazine’s Food Issue. Photo of Chika Unigwe courtesy D J Buck.

Chika Unigwe is a Nigerian writer. She is the author of fiction, poetry, articles and educational material. Her latest novel, Night Dancer, was published in Dutch in 2011 (as Nachtdanser) and in English in 2012.