WORDS to EAT by: Madam Plom Plom

I walk into Rose’s kitchen and find her staring intently into a glass of water.

‘Is everything alright? What has the water done to you?’ I ask and nudge her shoulder.

Rose sighed. ‘They have finally done it. They have finally done it’

‘Who has done what? I ask as I open her fridge to get a drink.

Rose is my closest friend and has a flair for drama. Given that no tears are falling and she is not rolling on the floor wailing to the heavens, I know this is not a real emergency.

‘Take a deep breath and tell me what happened’ I sit next to her ready to listen.

‘Do you remember Madam Plom Plom?’ She asked.

I sit upright. ‘Yes oh. Madam Plom Plom. I thought her business closed down?’

Madam Plom Plom.

Just saying her name makes my mouth water and my tummy rumble. Rose and I work together in a management consultancy firm. The office canteen was run by Madam Plom Plom and her children. This woman could cook. I am talking about smoky jollof rice that made me bite my tongue more times than I care to admit; Afang soup loaded with snails and periwinkles, moin-moin with eggs, fish, corned beef and slivers of scent leaf. Her signature dish was her buka stew. Spicy tomato stew with fried beef pieces, kidney, liver, shaki, cowleg, roundabout and dried fish. This stew had caused suit wearing men and women to come to fisticuffs over the last portions available for the day. To avoid embarrassing scenes, Madam Plom Plom started selling her magic stew in bowls that was available to pre order. Unfortunately Madam Plom Plom’s husband passed away and she never returned after the funeral rites were done.

Rose said: ‘I thought so as well. You know my team started at the new client site today. When it was time for lunch, the liaison officer passed around a menu and you will not believe the name of the caterer at the top. Madam Plom Plom. Sis, the speed with which I jumped up to go to the canteen myself eh. She recognised me. I asked her why she didn’t come back, she told me she had to finish the mandatory mourning period and when she came back, our company had retained another caterer’

‘So you ate Madam Plom Plom’s food today Rose? Where is my own? You better have mine somewhere oh’ I exclaimed

‘Wait first. Let me tell you how these people have turned me into somebody I cannot recognise’ She said.

I remember the reason this conversation started. ‘Hurry up and tell me so we can get to the eating’

She looks at me sideways and continues

‘After the catchup, I ordered white rice and buka stew. I chose ponmo, cowleg, beef with biscuit bone and liver. I decided to bring the food home to eat. You understand abi? So I can balance and use my hands and eat the meat well. I only had yogurt for lunch. This is how I walked into the house and warmed my food. These 2 children of mine came to ask me what I was eating. I told them ‘food from Madam Plom Plom.’ They wrinkled their noses and made all sorts of comments – what kind of name is that? Mommy this food looks naaaasssty. I asked them – do you want to taste? They called me weird and ran off. I settled down to eat my food. Enjoying every mouthful and thinking about ordering bowls of the stew for you and I tomorrow.’

She took a breath, shook her head and continued.

‘Just as I entered gear two of this food, these children came back. Went and grabbed their spoons and sat in front of me. Mommy we have decided we want to taste Madam Plom Plom’s food. Sis. I looked at them. Got up. Grabbed my bowl of food and entered the guest bathroom and locked the door. The little minions started knocking. Mummy what are you doing? Come out. I ignored them and sat inside the dry bathtub and ate my food. I used my hands to eat the meat. I licked the stew from my fingers. Crunched the biscuit bone and made sure there was not even a grain of rice left. I got out of the tub, washed my hands and opened the door. There they were. The children I sacrifice everything for. Looking at me with accusation in their eyes. You did not share mummy they said. They turned and walked away. I looked at myself and the empty bowl and thought to myself – they have done it. These children have finally turned me into a monster’

She finished, took a deep breath and put her head on the counter.

I looked at her and started to laugh….

Mixed meat stew

You will need:

  • 1kg mixed meat you like (beef, cow leg, tripe, lamb)
  • 2 large onions – diced.
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • ¼ piece of ginger – grated.
  • Bay leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 large tomatoes
  • 4 red bell peppers (tatashe)
  • 2-3 habanero peppers (yellow and green are my preference. Use more or less if desired)
  • Palm oil – about 1 cooking spoonful (more if desired)


  1. Wash meat well and put the tougher pieces (like cow leg if using) in a pot with enough water to have stock.
  2. Add half of the onions, the garlic, ginger, bay leaves and salt and cook for about 25 – 30 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the meat and cook till tender.
  4. Add some of the onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and habaneros into a blender and blitz till smooth and set aside.
  5. Heat palm oil in a pan until the oil becomes clear. (Not bleached)
  6. Add the rest of the onions and fry till the onions are translucent.
  7. Add the blended pepper mix and fry for about 5 minutes stirring constantly.
  8. Add some of the meat stock – I recommend starting with 2 cups. Add more if desired.
  9. Taste and season with salt if needed
  10. Cook for about 7 minutes stirring constantly.
  11. Add the cooked meat, turn heat to low and cook for about 10 – 15 minutes stirring constantly.


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