Last week my friend Chinwe decided she was going to make moin-moin and posted it on Facebook. This sparked a renewed longing to grind my kitchen and produce something of an American version, given the fact that I buy the local beans I find here. I haven’t worked at it yet, but this may well be the week I knock on my apron and get my wife laughing at my American moin-moin début. My Ijebu garri has been languishing and waiting for an appropriate companion for a while now 🙂
But this points me back to some thoughts of what made eating moin-moin exciting for me. As a child, my mum’s creation wrapped in nkong (what Efiks call the leaf used in wrapping the bean paste) was deservedly top-class. From the way she creatively separated the skin from the bean seeds using a mortar and pestle (although I soon became the point man for that part of the labour), to the blending with pepper and ground dried crayfish plus other ingredients to match, to the skilful apportioning of the paste into the leaves and finally to neatly wrapping the leaves, without a single drop of the paste leaking out, before placing into the pot. There was something near divine about the whole process and I usually observed it with strict attention.
But I hereby confess that the real reason I watched the moin-moin making process was to note what exciting things were buried in each wrap. Admittedly, I cannot stand any wrap of moin-moin that doesn’t contain some form of flesh; whether it flies, crawls, swims, or walks. Once the meal touches my plate the first thing I do is to divide it asunder with my fork. With the keen senses of an explorer, I investigate what riches lay beyond the smooth skin of the finished product. If the content thereof is null, I immediately lose my appetite no matter the depth of the hunger or the intensity of the expectation. Eating moin-moin for me was beyond satisfying my belly, it was also about fulfilled expectations.
Frankly, to me, the quality of moin-moin lies beyond its taste. I grade my moin-moin by what it has in it. Now I wholly blame my mother for this! When I cut through with my fork, the first requirement is that I must encounter a slice of boiled egg. Only then will my tongue become watery, indicating that the necessary fluids for digestion have been duly secreted. Then the next encounter should reveal some shredded fish or shredded beef. Now my tummy will start churning and hoping for a feel of the meal. Finally there must be found the presence of shrimps within the congealed substance for me to slam it a five-star rating. Any moin-moin without these listed treasures is nothing short of gastronomic murder. How can it by any means satisfy?
This attitude was nurtured from my childhood and still remains the way I assess moin-moin. Now that I am a matured man and can do as I please in my kitchen (after convincing my wife to stay outta the kitchen), I have promised myself to load my moin-moin with edible creatures to my sheer delight. Every slice will bleed with crustaceans, mammals, bird-parts, and aquatic organisms. This way, like in my juvenile exhilaration, every portion dropped in my mouth will be accompanied by humming a twaddle tune and finger-tapping the table. Unfortunately I am that bad….lol. But gladly, I am not as bad as Chinwe who will watch and mark every of the most garnished wrap in the boiling pot so that when it is being served, she will corner the best. That is a condition called “moin-moin-tosomitis” and it is incurable…he he he… (This note is dedicated to Chinwe Ekenna who sparked my hunger for moin-moin again)
Note: If you are not in the motherland and will like to learn how to prepare this dish, then follow the link I provide here: http://www.avartsycooking.com/2010/01/make-moi-moi-steamed-bean-pudding/