After having read your fifth consecutive letter on the same issue, I have reluctantly concluded that I have little choice in the matter but to reply.
You appear to have taken offence to the fact that I left the bones in the meat, poultry, and fish. You made the same complaint about the peppered snails too, but contrary to your assertion, snails, no matter how big they are, do not have bones.
One of the dishes you complained about was fish peppersoup, which had fresh tilapia as its main ingredient. You stated that you were appalled that I cut the fish into four pieces, and then put it into the broth, complete with the head. You further went on to express your dissatisfaction with the fact that I had neither skinned nor deboned the fish.
Like I have mentioned in my earlier correspondence with you, I am not seeking to adapt my cuisine to Western palates, rather, it is my aim to get people to appreciate my cuisine for what it is. Unpretentious hearty food that warms the soul even as it fills the belly.
Traditionally, we do not fillet fish, neither do we take tweezers to pluck out every errant bone that dares exist without being attached to the central bones in the middle of the fish. I do not care for the opinions of all the MasterChefs you count among your friends, I tell you again, it is not the Nigerian way. As for fish bones sticking in one’s throat, I would assume this is more common in cultures where it is assumed that fish swim straight out of the ocean into neat cardboard boxes in supermarket freezers leaving both their skin and their bones behind. We know fish come with bones, and handle them with the requisite care whilst eating. You claim to have been traumatised at the sight of me using my hands to remove the gills et al from the fish head. They are inedible, and had to be removed. What better way than to use my hands?
You were not happy that I used a whole goat’s head in another video to demonstrate the cooking of isi ewu, another form of peppersoup. In the western hemisphere, the notion of head to tail cooking is slowly taking root again, maybe due to the recession. We, on the other hand, have never lost sight of the fact that the least attractive parts of animals, are often the most tasty. The clue lay in the title of the video, why did you subject yourself to the trauma of watching me use a cleaver to hack through the goat’s skull while you ‘gasped for air in disbelief’ as you put it? I must add that it is a foolhardy task to debone a head, and that should be apparent, even to such a person as your esteemed self.
As for me cooking a pot of stew using assorted meats like bokoto (cow foot), oxtail, and assorted goat pieces, this is how we roll. Most of the Nigerians I know enjoy gnawing the meat off bones while finishing off a meal. It is the way I was raised, I neither know nor desire any other. There is a place for steaks, and a place for bony cuts of meat.
I am sorry that whilst trying to emulate me, as you put it, you cracked your teeth by attempting to bite through a piece of oxtail. I do not eat bones, and would not advise anyone to do so, as it is a very hazardous pursuit as you have personally discovered.
I wish you good luck in getting the RSPCA to investigate whether or not it is humane to eat the heads of animals after they have been despatched by butchers and fishmongers respectively. I hope you are successful in finding another law firm willing enough to take you on as a client. I hereby decline your offer not to take legal proceedings against me for traumatising you, on the proviso that I pay a sizeable sum of money into your account. I am glad that your dental adhesives are working out well for you, and I will attend to your other letters in due course.