As we walked into her kitchen we could not resist the delicious aroma coming from what was boiling in the pot. Pinching kelvin I winked “I can’t wait to taste of it” he nodded in agreement (probably in the same mood too), she could sense how I was felt because she smiled, showing the beautiful gap between her teeth. Truth be told, this young lady is African in totality and it is obvious she is proud of her origin. I didn’t waste time in settling into the business of the day. First we had to take pictures of her wonderful cuisine as they came out hot! (That’s was how she wanted it, she’s good at what she does) and then she announced it was time for the interview. We sat at her round dining table and for two straight minutes I just kept starring at her. To be sincere I didn’t know where to start from because I had a lot of questions, kelvin looked at me giving me signals to start, she on the other hand just kept smiling, shy but confidently as if to tell me that she’s ready for whatever I was bringing her way. I took one last look at the both of them and I began;
h!: How long have you been cooking?
Aisha: here or my entirely life? (Chuckling)
Aisha: I’ve been cooking since I was a kid, I loved to experiment (which she still does) I would just think of something and get into the kitchen, mix them up and either good or bad I would feel like I’ve achieved something. I also loved watching my mom and older sisters cook. I would read any cookery book available too. But here on this island I started cooking over a year ago. Cooking to me has been more than a passion.
h!: how as it been for you, knowing this isn’t Africa and you have to combine school and work?
Aisha: well, I would say really it wasn’t easy for me. It was hard getting the right ingredients; I had to improvise a lot which I hated because I wanted people to taste the original thing. It is African food and it should taste African. The vegetables here, the meat, everything wasn’t what I wanted. I always had to travel to the next town to search. That was affecting my studies because I would come back tired and wake up late sometimes, but I had to find a solution to everything. I met someone who supplied me what I needed from Africa and that has been like a great blessing, because I do not have to stress hard again like before.
h!: Did you ever attend any school for culinary skills?
Aisha: No, I never did
h!: why not, don’t you think you need to learn more?
(She gets up, moved to the pot and opened it. The aroma strongly filled the whole place again, my mouth watered so badly, I didn't know what to do. She kept smiling as she dished “pepper soup” in a small plate and “veggie rice” in another. Placing it on the table she said in a clear stern voice “Tasha this isn't for you, it’s for kelvin.” returning to her former position, we continued the interview)
Aisha: my dear you were asking?...(she's good with pet names)
h!: yes I said why didn’t you attend any school…?
Aisha: oh yes! I remember (cutting me short, I didn’t mind because my eyes were on kelvin’s food!) these days you get almost everything via the internet; I learned how to make mince pie and cakes over the internet. I knew how a good one should test, I got the recipe, bought what I needed and practiced till I was perfect. Schools of culinary are good, don’t get me wrong but I just didn’t feel the need to go as long as I can get what I need on the internet.
(I just could not resist the food anymore, picking up the spoon in front of me i dug into it, one piece of meat, soup, and rice and continued not caring if it was an interview, at this point kelvin knew better and he took over)
h!: when are you going to stop cooking?
Aisha: (looking bewildered) I won’t…omg why should i?
h!: sorry let me rephrase, do you plan to continue cooking as a student or will something else pick your interest?
Aisha: I do not intend stopping, school or no school I find fulfillment in what I do. It could be tough and rough sometimes but I never get tired of feeding others and watching other Africans taste home. I do not see myself working for anyone so I have to be expert at cooking now, so expanding in future would not be difficult for me. I think the most hurdles I have to jump are now.
h!: (with my mouth full I asked) project yourself in five years? Where do you want to be?
Aisha: I would like to own chain of business, it does not stop here. I would love to train people in arts and craft, buy and sell merchandize too.
h!: what’s your client base?
Aisha: well, they are mostly Africans and students too; I would say I have over a hundred.
h!: is your food affordable?
Aisha: oh yes it is, it has to be because most of us here are students.
h!: how would you grade the taste of your food?
Aisha: from watching you, I would grade myself the best, I always watch people as they eat and when they smile I get satisfied. They hardly complain and when they give me any suggestion I make change immediately.
h!: one last question gurl (that was me and my sweet mouth) has anyone one ever come from a long distance just to eat your food?
Aisha: yes, students from other town drive all the way down t eat, some even make orders and I send them through the bus station.
That answer ended the whole interview, I was too full and kelvin was too blown to ask anymore.
MY VERDICT: Homely kitchens, makes real and delicious African food, deserts and good snacks.
PS: kelvin is my very dear friend here and i have to thank him for helping me take these lovely pictures.