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African Britishness - Cooking Christmas Turkey the African British Way!
Image by Alison Marras – Unsplash

Diet of American Movies

When I was growing up in Nigeria, my nourishment for how the West celebrated Christmas was steady diets of American movies. We considered British movies to be boring and too realistic for comfort and would only watch British comedies.

Therefore, we cuddled up to American Christmas family angst – father, mother  and 2 children or father, mother, grown children and grandchildren, sharing a massive turkey and having lots of drama. Perhaps dad was strict while mum was the peacemaker amidst several sibling issues and rivalries. Everything was done with the backdrop of a massive Christmas tree with twinkling lights and tons of beautifully wrapped gifts waiting to be unwrapped.   

African Christmas

Back then in Nigeria, my parents did not have any pretention to this. Christmas was chicken or beef with plenty of white rice, Jollof rice, Moin Moin, and stewed goat meat. Presents were wholly to be new clothes or money. I was fascinated by the American way of celebrating Christmas and could not wait to celebrate my first Christmas in the UK. As a foodie, I pored over recipes and the best way to cook my massive turkey. I bought stuffings, gravy(Aah Bistro!), bacon strips, and everything that would allow me to produce the golden, mouthwatering creation of my American dream. I almost wished for a re-creation of drama in my front room as well. I loved Home Alone best!

African Britishness - Cooking Christmas Turkey the African British Way!
African Britishness – Cooking Christmas Turkey the African British Way!

My first shock was how tasteless my turkey was, even with all the 2 days marination. I managed to dismiss this as beginner’s bad luck and promised to do better the next year. By this time, I had started work and attended tons of Christmas meals. I made sure to choose the Christmas turkey from the menu and was shocked at how bland it was. I would then drench the slab of white meat in gravy and cranberry sauce, which made it become palatable.

After these, for other christmases I settled for ducks – too scrawny!

Goose – too fatty!

 Beef – well, too beefy! (I can’t help that!)

Christmas Turkey My African British Way

I then determined to make the turkey my own way, the African way. To be truthful, Africans defeat the turkey’s mountainous girt by chopping and dicing it, and then seasoning and roasting it in the oven. Or better still, they steer well clear! I consider these cowardly (sorry my darling African brothers and sisters). After thinking long and hard, I decided that the best way to tackle this and produce a great tasty turkey was to combine every spice in my kitchen’s cupboard plus salt and then add plenty of powdered cayenne pepper and stir in olive oil. I then ensured that my turkey was slathered in this, inside and out. I added chunks of onion as my stuffing and marinated for 3 days!

African Britishness - Cooking Christmas Turkey the African British Way!
Image by Marie Grob – Unsplash

Afterwards, I set the turkey inside the oven and when it came out of the oven 4 hours later, it was golden brown, the juice and a bit of Bistro became gravy and I was living my African dream! The turkey was delicious, all eaten up and enjoyed by me and my family and I never looked back!

I had almost forgotten the traditional way of making turkey till one day a friend asked me how I made my turkey and what stuffing I used. I gave her a strange look and proudly described my method. My description was so funny that it was added to a script in my church play and had everyone in stitches.


So, if you fancy a bit of spicy turkey for 2019, away from the traditional taste, email me and I will send you my recipe!

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