I always loved going to my maternal and paternal grandmothers as they were the epitome of love. The aroma of different foods like jollof rice, chicken, fried plantains wafting out of their outdoor kitchens still sends shivers through me as I relieve these memories.
I still enjoy cooking when I am home in the heartland. The earth, wood, smoke, and the leaves all add their mystical scent to the food that cannot be replicated with any equation or formula.
Cooking with love involves cooking together. Siblings, parents, aunties and uncles sit around and tell stories, trade banter as the food simmers. Friends and relatives gradually wander in as the smell of the food travels the distance. Some particular friends notoriously know when the food is always ready.
Food brings us together in the Igbo culture. It is a way of mending rifts, sharing love and joy. I have often accompanied my mother to bring special herbs and broth to a new mother or to a sick friend or relative. You always taste the food in the presence of your guests to demonstrate that it is safe and done in good faith.
I hope that as you cook with your family, you cook with love as we do in the heartland.