A Book and a Bite: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

How is October almost over?!? It’s 40 degrees and windy here today and snow is in the forecast for Friday. Summer is but a distant memory. Halloween somehow snuck up on me AGAIN and I’m frantically piecing together costumes and trying to find a night to carve pumpkins.

For the third year in a row, my son and daughter are wearing matching costumes. I’m relishing in this cutie-fest for as long as it will last. It hasn’t even been my idea. My daughter always comes up with the ideas and my son happily follows along. Two years ago they were the “Lady” in with the Yellow Hat and Curious George and last year they were Word Girl and Captain Huggy Face (somehow Jude got stuck with being a monkey two years in a row!). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, after watching the Lego Ninjago movie, they both decided to be Ninjas. You’re telling me my kids want to wear warm pajamas for trick-or-treating? Can do!  Pinterest has a ton of easy ideas for making ninja costumes and I’m all over it. I’ll be sure to post pictures of their finished costumes.

I finally finished Americanah last night. I’d love to be one of those people who cruises through a 500-page novel in a week, but I’m just not. Three weeks is about my average pace for a book that size. I absolutely loved this book. The writing is so rich. It gives such a unique, interesting perspective on race in America from the viewpoint of a non-American black.

Ifemelu is young and intelligent living in military-ruled Nigera. Her family isn’t rich, but they’re not dirt poor either. In secondary school, she meets Obinze and they fall in love. The two go to college together, but Ifemelu decides to finish her education in America. Once in America, she is overcome with the challenges of being an immigrant and a minority. She struggles to find a job, falls into a depression, and cuts off all contact with Obinze. Eventually, Ifemelu finds a job and her voice. She starts a blog about race in America. The author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is a Nigerian living in America so I feel that a lot of Ifemelu’s story is based on her own experiences. She says some really profound things about how pervasive race is in our society and how we refuse to talk about it. 

“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.”

It was also a very interesting experience reading this book in the current political climate. Americanah was written in 2013 and recounts the 2008 presidential election from the perspective of black Americans. There was so much joy and hope that there could be real change in the social fabric of our country when Obama was elected president and now it just feels like we’ve gone backwards. We have gone backwards.

I particularly enjoyed this book because I learned so much about Nigerian culture, which I previously knew nothing about. I learned that Nigerians like to say “o” at the end of their sentences, Lagos is the largest city in Africa, and coconut and Jollof rice are staple dishes. As a way to continue the experience of reading this novel, I decided to cook some food that reminded me of the book. The dish I decided to make is Coconut Rice.

“She was cooking coconut rice, her apartment thick with spices, a bottle of cheap merlot on her counter, and Nina Simone playing loudly in the background on her CD.”

I decided to make it Nigerian night and paired it with Spicy Jerk Chicken and Fried Plantains. It was delicious and a welcomed change from Taco Tuesday.

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Coconut Rice and Beans

This is a simple version of coconut rice and beans. It can be spiced up with a couple of spoonfuls of Nigerian Stew Base. 

Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6
Author Ronke Edoho

Ingredients

  • 2 cups beans
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash and drain beans

  2. Place and large pot on medium-high heat, add in beans, chopped onion, and 5 cups of water. Cover and cook 1 1/2 hours until beans are soft. 

  3. Add rice, salt, and coconut milk into the cooked beans, stir to combine. Balance out the liquid in the pot so that there is just enough to cover the beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer until rice is cooked through. 

  4. Remove pot from heat and fluff with fork. Serve immediately. 

Recipe Notes

This recipe was adopted from 9jaFoodie. Check out her blog for other delicious Nigerian recipes. 

*Disclosure – This post contains affiliated links. That means earn a small commission for any items purchased through my blog. You will never be charged anything for clicking on links and I only recommend items I would purchase myself.  

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