22/06/2021
Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
            How are you guys doing?

Banji Chona:
Super well, the weather's lovely here. It's actually quite hot. Which is nice, because I’ll take blistering sun over winter any day, so I'm quite happy. And how are you?

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
I'm well. I'm okay. It's been raining here. We're in the rainy season - or nearing it. But it's been good. It's been nice and chill.

Beulah Ezeugo:
It’s really hot here also. So I woke up with ...... which is really nice.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
            Have you moved Beulah?

Beulah Ezeugo:
No, I'm gonna move on Saturday. I had a friend over. She's gone now, so I'm gonna get to packing.

Banji Chona:
                    Godspeed.

Beulah Ezeugo:
Thank you. How about you, Yadi? Have you found somewhere?

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
No. Recently, I tried to contact an agent and he started to ask me about what I do for work? Like, where I'm from, what state I'm from. And he still didn't respond. It's just been a bit difficult really. I'm not really focusing on it right now. Until I really really have to get out of here, I guess.

Beulah Ezeugo:
                                            Yeah.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
It's been okay. Taking it slow. Okay, how shall we catch up? From our food journals?

Banji Chona:
I think that's a good way to start. So I'm gonna try and share my screen. And hopefully, it works.

Beulah Ezeugo:
                    Yeah, I can see it.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
                                           No.    Not yet.

Banji Chona:
                        Okay.
                                    Oh, I'll wait a few seconds.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
Yeah. I can see it now.

Banji Chona:
So the first time Yadi and I spoke about keeping these food journals, we found that both of us kind of struggled to write it down as soon as we ate. So the prompt that we decided on was
                            “What did you eat today?”
and we ended up both kind of sitting down at the end of the week and having to rack through our brains to see what it was that we ate. That's also quite interesting because we spoke about it in relation to, passively eating, like nutritional eating as opposed to eating as a process of pleasure.
            But Tuesday, I had some homemade red bean burgers, which was lovely.
                 Wednesday, slice of pizza to go.
                      Thursday, noodle soup and veggie gyozas.
                            Friday, shakshuka and salsiccia...
                                Saturday, I have no idea!
                                      My boyfriend and I were together for like half an hour, going through all the                                         different things that we did, trying to place, I guess food, within places. And                                           we were both just like, “what did we actually eat?”
And I found it interesting that all these question marks are here on Saturday. I definitely know I was eating. But I don't remember what. And that's also quite interesting, the relationality between activity and food, you know, how we fit our food into our routine, or sometimes our routine is shaped around mealtimes. So that was me.
                                And then Monday coffee, as it should be.

Beulah Ezeugo:
Oh, you are eating so well! There's so much variety. Looking at this, I'm thinking..
                        Oh, sorry.

Banji Chona:
No, that's all right. I think we’re overlapping here.

Beulah Ezeugo:
Oh, yeah, there's a bit of a lag.
                        My bad! If I interrupt, just cut me off.
But, I was looking at your list and I realized that I just eat leftovers a lot. I'll cook once and then eat the same thing for days. So it's nice to see that you're cooking every day.

Banji Chona:
                        Exactly!
I mean, I have noticed that there isn't much homey food, like, Zambian food. S I've actively been trying to get my head in a space in which I'm cooking Zambian food.. because it's also quite laborious. You guys have fufu in Nigeria, right?

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
                    Yeah, sure.

Banji Chona:
It's the same hectic arm movements, you need to...
                                        pump the arm up
                                    before you start cooking!
So I think that's something I found as a barrier keeping me from eating whole foods. But yes, I want to try a lot more to get past that. It's called ukunaya, the process of like, what do you call it?
                                            The process of making nshima.
Yadi, would you like to share your food diary as well?

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
So I made an image out of it because I think writing it out was a bit...
                                    I don't know, one dimensional.
I really wanted to have a visual sense of what my food looks like. And more importantly, the raw version of it. I sent images to our WhatsApp group, I don't know if you guys have gotten them yet...
                                        Hold on. Somebody keeps calling my phone.

Banji Chona:
That's quite interesting that you've put it into visual form. I like that!

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
Yes, I had made a small GIF of the image as well. I think just being able to break down the food into these elements, right? It made me think about just..
                    I really wanted to connect with the raw materials we're eating and the crops that we’re growing.

Banji Chona:
That's quite sweet.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
Yeah, yes. So on the first line, you know, there's yams and eggs and potatoes and some pepper and onions...And I’m also thinking of how these elements can combine in different ways to form other meals.
                                                It's almost like a puzzle.
If you shifted them on a keypad, what would that come to form? And that's why I've also kinda arranged them in a grid. I will see how I can turn them into a keypad thing, but I don't know if I can write the code for that particular application. Yeah, so it's a GIF. I made out of just different frames from my Wednesday and Tuesday meals.

Beulah Ezeugo:
I really liked the grid form and how it can almost be read from any direction. It reminds me of those games that you play online as a kid.
                    Like Cooking Mama or something...where you’re challenged to combine all of these ingredients...

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
                                            Yeah exactly!
Something I was also really interested in trying to figure out how I can make it an interactive process. And say the first line of this..the yam, eggs and you know, pepper and onions, I gave it to my friend to guess what I ate and she kind of got it right. Fried yam, chips and egg sauce.
And the second line is basically everything you need to make amala and ewedu soup, which is a traditional Yoruba meal that's eaten here, especially in Lagos - very, very popular with the Yorubas.
                    The third line is jollof rice and you know, some beef.
I'm still trying to, I guess, flesh this out more. But I'm really just drawing out these visual elements. And maybe somehow I can kind of create a map of some kind. The next image I sent to you on WhatsApp is my favourite meal.
Banji, this was your prompt for the week, you know, to kind of pull out a recipe for what my favourite meal is, and it’s this Igbo soup, which is a meal from southeastern Nigeria. It's called oha soup and pounded yam. And I'm also just using this image format to kind of form a collage.

Banji Chona:
I think it's wonderful that you use images to map out your food rather than words. I like seeing the raw materials and the different combinations that could come out of the different recipes.

Beulah Ezeugo:
I like it a lot. I remember you both spoke about putting your two spidergrams together as well. I guess it's quite similar in the way that it's almost instructional. I kind of really enjoy this idea of writing things out in a deterministic way. Like how a recipe may visually exist as a flow chart.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
                                                        Yeah, yeah.
It's cool to just even look at the different ways that graphs can play a big role in figuring out connections between food, cultural practices around food and where they came from. Banji and I were looking at this map showing food crop exchanges between different parts of the world. We might explore what exchanges have occurred between West Africa and Southern Africa.
                It would be interesting to see what ingredients I may find in my daily consumption that come from                     Southern Africa.

Banji Chona:
Yadi, we need to find a way to I guess connect our spidergrams. Because I did mine in a similar way that you did.
I pick the different words that were conjured up when I thought about what food was.
And my centre word or the first word I wrote down was nshima, because I'm basing my work on it. Then I have words like
                                                                            “simplicity”
                                            “tradition”
                    “comfort”
                                                               “carbohydrates”
                                    “grainy”,
..there seem to be no thematic strings, everything is quite different but so connected as well.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
It could be interesting to compare both and see if anything I have is similar. I can already see "heavy" here in yours. And I know that I have that in mine.

Banji Chona:
There might be a way. I'm gonna try and do this.
                                                Let's see.
                                Oh, technology. What a crazy thing. So scary sometimes.
                    I'll see if I can open them both at the same time. You just have to give me one little second.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
                                    Okay.
                                    You're championing this, well done.

Banji Chona:
                Thanks, guys.
                    Okay, I think we're kind of there, right? Are you able to see your own?

Beulah Ezeugo:
I think we can only see your screen.

Banji Chona:
I'm sorry. Okay, that's probably because I can only share one window at a time when I'm trying to share two. So maybe what I'll do is I'll take a screenshot of this and then add it to the chat, and then open it…
                                            Oh, I'm sweating here. It's completely fine.
                        Okay, so it's sending right now in the chat.
                                            Can you let me know when you've gotten it? It's quite slow.
Or instead of waiting for it to upload, I guess we could look at Yadi's on the phone. And then look at mine on the screen.

Beulah Ezeugo:
High-tech hacking?

Banji Chona:
            Honestly, it is since that's how we have to do it.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu 22:14
So yeah, I feel like you definitely have a lot more words that relate to the feeling of the meal, here.

And even like on a visual and textual level you have
                                                                                        "soupy",
                                        "grainy",
                                                                        "gumbo",
                "heavy",
                                                        "liquid"

...and that's just interesting to notice. I feel like when you speak about nshima, and other Zambian meals, there is a sense of like, home and comfort. And you know, it feels like a very warm idea, this concept of food and feeding.
And I don't know if it's in opposition to anything here, but we have spoken about how we realize that sometimes feeding isn't an intentional or pleasurable experience, it's just something you're doing to kind of like move through to the next thing.
I almost feel like culturally we've adopted that attitude towards food [here]. So not even just me as an individual who is working all time or whatever, but just in general. Except for the staples like jollof rice or amala, there is no real special kind of arrangement around food you know... I wouldn't relate it to comfort per se, or even simplicity.
                There really is something that is quite loud about our foods and the spaces that it comes to express                 itself. It's usually a big party thing. And parties here can be loud.
Or it's on the go and it's fast food - we have a lot of that here.I was just speaking to Banji about this big food company called Chicken Republic. Basically they sell fast food and everybody, population wise, is kind of dependent on them. And it doesn't really matter what your social class is, but it's really fast. It's really quick. It's not particularly comfortable. It's just the quickest, easiest thing and I feel like that's what Nigerian meals happen to lean more towards.There isn't likely any notion that meals have to be made in a way that considers comfort or sharing.
            It's interesting.
And so yeah, there's lots of heavy, spicy carby foods because there's also a need for energy, everybody is just on the go constantly. There is a quickness of lifestyle that also implies that food also has to be quick.

Beulah Ezeugo:
It definitely makes me think of the difference between being home and being abroad. I feel like when I'm at home, I don't really see jollof or stew as comfort food, but when living away from home, that's when cooking these foods becomes more about comfort than utility.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
                                                Yeah.

Banji Chona:
                                        Exactly.
And I guess it's like anything, if the context in which it exists changes the meaning it takes on changes. If I was at home in Zambia, it wouldn't be totally considered as comfort food because it would be there and that's what we eat. But out here it's my connection to home. It’s one of the things from home that I can not only touch but actually consume. You know, so it's got that specialness to it.
Because all my other connections to home, for example, are intangible and are happening in a digital space like phone calls with family photos, photographs...I started collecting some messages from other people on WhatsApp, because I realized that I didn't have many messages about nshima, like quite a few, but definitely not the number I was looking for. So I reached out to other people and started collecting these messages. And it was quite interesting to see that there was a theme, and it was a theme which is sharing or comfort. It was mainly like,
                               "Hey, would you like to come over for nshima?"
                                        "Hey, I haven't seen you in a week. Do you want some nshima?"
..things along those lines. That feeling of sharing nshima in the contemporary context also mirrors the traditional production process of in nshima…
                    Oh, it says The meeting will end in 10 minutes. I'm sorry for my non-business Zoom.
But maybe we try to start it again now and then come back to this point, or wait until the timer ends. What do you guys reckon?

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
                I think I think we should just start it again now.

Beulah Ezeugo:
                                                                    I agree.

Banji Chona:
                        Yeah.
                                Okay.
So let me do that and send you guys the new link.

Yadichinma Ukoha-kalu:
Alright, thank you.


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