I attended a wedding couple of months back and when it was time to admonish the young bride, the uncle to that bride said to her “Never give your husband a food, always prepare meals for him”. The whole hall lit up with different kind of laughter, some smiled, some almost got choked up from laughing, others had to clear their throats. I didn’t quite understand what he meant until he further broke it down by saying “Iyawo (which means wife in Yoruba language) there’s a big difference between food and meal” and for any time we come visiting, we want you to prepare a meal for us not food. I kept pondering over this until recently when a friend of mine said to the daughter, “please prepare a good meal for your father when he returns and not one of those your foods you cook”. I smiled again but then i knew it was time to talk about this with my precious fans, friends and loved ones and also get their opinions on this. 

The wedding i attended was a Yoruba wedding, the Yorubas are one of the largest African ethnic groups south of the Sahara Desert. They are, in fact, not a single group, but rather a collection of diverse people bound together by a common language, history, and culture. Within Nigeria, the Yoruba dominate the western part of the country. They are cultural people and uphold their heritages to the last. They believe in bringing up their children to be morally upright and potential family makers. This is the reason why the female child is taught from an early age how to take care of her siblings, cook, be submissive, respectful to elders and homely. 
A food according to the bride’s uncle, a food is prepared without much attention to paid to the cooking, the person who will eat it whether he or she would like it, the time it will be consumed, how long it will take for digestion to take place, all that matters is to quench hunger, an example of this is indomie with fried eggs or boiled eggs. Indomie with tea or a glass of juice, cookies with juice, bread and butter with tea. Lol..
A meal on the other hand is the one you take your time to prepare, it is usually​ prepared with so much love, every ingredient is applied with caution, the woman moves gracefully and swiftly as she sings to herself in joy as she cooks. She cooks with so much pride because she knows her husband will enjoy it and sing her praises when he returns. She cares about the time the meal will be taken and if it will easily digest. Example of such meals are Amala with gbegiri, ewedu, stew and all kind of assorted meats ( my Yoruba brothers should be smiling chin to chin right now), pounded yam with Egusi soup and assorted meats, rice and beans with stew filled with assorted meats, cold water, a glass of juice or wine must accompany these meals. 

Traditionally and culturally, the uncle has done justice to the difference between meal and food. Let’s see what a food is and what a meal is. Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. Meal is the food served and eaten especially at one of the customary, regular occasions for taking food during the day, as breakfast, lunch, or supper. 
I don’t see any difference between a meal and a food. So indomie, spaghetti, fried eggs with bread are not meals, but they are foods and a meal is a food served as either breakfast, lunch or dinner. Is it wrong to prepare noodles, indomie, for the family? Why so much disparities between noodles, indomie, even rice. Why do our fathers, traditional men, uncles, aunties, prefer pounded yam, ewedu, gbegiri, efor, Amala or better yet locally made foods as they fondly call it  to any other type of food?  I guess i will settle with the Igbo proverb that says “What an elder sees sitting, even if a child should stand or climb the highest mountain will never see it”. 
As mothers are we to teach our children how to cook meals and not how to cook foods? #my thoughts for today...

Whitney Edna Ibe is the Executive Consultant, Life & Mental Health Coach, and Writer/ Editor at Whitney Edna Ibe Consult (Blog), Flyhiee.com, The Social Talks, Penprofile.com, and Mental Wellness Society International. She is in charge of consultations, services, and implementation.

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