I love onions.
Lovely onion rings melted to semi-transparency in sizzling groundnut oil for precisely a minute. Succulent onion rings that go ‘crunch’ silently, releasing such delicious juice that assails your palate with exquisite pleasure.
They have to be dripping oil when served with grilled beef. The grilled beef – no, let’s not go there yet.
The onions have to be right. Let’s get the onions done right first.
Make sure you take off the entire first layer after the onion scales; it so sucks to chomp unexpectedly on some tough, fibrous bit when savouring your onions. That tough, fibrous bit usually is part of that first layer you must take off. Make sure you take it off.
Slice every other thing into nice, juicy rings – inimical peppery fumes are the poignant reminder nothing this good comes with no small price.
A little sprinkle of cayenne & salt. Heat your oil. Fry till that cellophane-like transparent transformation occurs. Scoop out on a surface that won’t absorb the oil dripping off the onions. Aha, now the beef.
I slip into my stone wash blue jeans, stuff a 500 naira note in one pocket and proceed down the street to hunt down a plate mate for my onions.
Nene’s Chicken is an open air affair, nice comfy chairs round plastic tables, no smoke from grilling meat irritating one’s eyes, nose & they throw in lots of raw vegetables with the meat. But they don’t simmer onions.
I order suya, 500 naira – no vegetables, just a good helping of that mysterious, amazing suya spicing powder.
I lean against the serving counter on my elbows, waiting for my suya.
I hear her voice before I smell her delicate feminine fragrance or sense her presence.
“Please, beef suya, 500”
She smiles a greeting when I turn.
“Hello,” I smile back.
She chuckles, says “Onions”
I smile again, in puzzlement and then laugh.
“How did you know?”
My surprise is genuine and she laughs again.
“The finger tips are sometimes the giveaway.” She raises her own hands to show finger tips slightly stained purple.
I look at my own hands, and grin.
They are stained too but you need to be close enough to notice. Close enough as to smell the other’s musky hair pomade fragrance, the onions on the breath – no doubt a stolen raw offering from the kitchen; close enough not to be mistaken that the other is a really nice looking lady.
“Sherlock Holmes in pencil jeans.” I grin.
She winks. “The real mccoy, you bet.
“Don’t laugh” I say. “But I’m having suya & fried onions for dinner.”
She laughed out loud. “No kidding!” Her eyes widen with surprise.”I’m having the same fare.”
I’m surprised too, very. Also, secretly thrilled. Something exciting, however brief it might be, is up here. “This is incredible.”
“And by any chance,” she continues. ” You don’t spice them up slightly and -”
“Oga.” A brusque voice from behind the counter sends my thoughts, the mental conversation, the new acquaintance in my head, scudding. I sigh, pay for my suya, and start back to my apartment.