Growing up in Nigeria, my nourishment for how the West celebrated Christmas was the steady diets of American movies. We considered British films boring and too realistic for comfort and only watched British comedies. Therefore, we cuddled up to American Christmas family angst. A father, mother, and two children or a father, mother, grown children, and grandchildren share a massive turkey and have 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. In Nigeria, my parents did not have any pretension to this. No Christmas turkey but chicken or beef with plenty of white rice, Jollof rice, Moin Moin, and stewed goat meat. This, I believe, influenced my Christmas story Jollof Rice and Crayfish mystery in the culinary cozy mystery anthology by seven crime writers of color – Festive Mayhem 2, where my lead character Elizabeth tries to solve a mystery around jollof rice.
My first shock was how tasteless my turkey was, even with the two days of marination. I managed to dismiss this as beginner’s luck and promised to do better the following year. I had started work and attended tons of Christmas meals by this time. 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 palatable. After these, I settled for ducks for other Christmases — too scrawny! Goose — too fatty! Beef — well, too beefy! (I can’t help that!)
At Christmas, presents were to be new clothes or money. I was fascinated by the American way of celebrating Christmas. I could not wait to celebrate my first Christmas in the UK. I pored over recipes and the best way to cook my massive turkey as a foodie. I bought stuffing, gravy(Aah Bisto!), 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!
I then determined to make the turkey my 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 tremendous tasty turkey. I planned to combine every spice in my kitchen’s cupboard plus salt, add plenty of powdered cayenne pepper, and stir in olive oil. Then ensured that my turkey was slathered in this, inside and out. I added chunks of onion as my stuffing and marinated for three days!
Afterwards, I set the turkey inside the oven. When it came out of the oven four 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 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 scrumptious, delicious spicy turkey for Christmas, then subscribe to get my free SPICY TURKEY Recipe Card! Remember that you can also cook this turkey and remove the pepper. The beautiful image of the golden brown turkey is by Alison Marras.
Here’s my gift to you.