Monday Meal Review: Nigeria

I press the glass to my lips. Millions of tiny bubbles burst at once; fireworks in my mouth. Zesty fireworks. If the name is any indication, this Chapman is a serious drink. A drink for gentlemen and poker, with a splash of intrigue. A drink suitable for 007 himself. But one sip in and I know – this is a silly, sing-in-the-shower, dance-with-your-towel-on-your-head kind of drink. This is a sit-in-the-shade-and-sing-to-the-birds kind of drink.

What’s in a name, anyway?

The drink comes from Nigeria, and so – in a fit of boredom one sweltering afternoon – I look into Nigerian naming traditions. As the air-conditioner whines, I lose myself in a group called the Yoruba who live, in part, in Nigeria.

According to Yoruba culture, the naming of the child is a decision of the utmost importance.

They believe that the child’s name shapes the life of the child because the name is like a spirit, constantly on a quest to seek out fulfillment. This is how, for example, a Yoruba child can come to be named “kokumo,”or “this will not die.” This is not so much morbid, as a hopeful declaration of what will come to be.

Now here’s a little factoid you might not have known.

I was not born “Sasha.” No. My mother named me Musashi, after the most famous Japanese warrior in history.


But seriously…

Miyamoto Musashi, self-portrait (circa 1640) and me.

What’s a girl to do with a legacy like this? What about the fact that all I’ve ever wanted for the world and our children is peace, health, and joy?

I often wonder – in order to live up to my name, must I own armor? What about a sword? 

In the spirit of using the wisdom of other cultures to inform my life: yes, it would seem so.  According to the Yoruba, being named after a warrior seems to be a declaration – a predetermination – that I am destined to battle (even if just on a emotional level). And to credit the Yoruba philosophers, my life certainly followed this path for a long while.

The question for me now is what exactly is my battle, and can I win?

When I was a little girl my mom legally changed my name to Sasha. Ironically, with this new name I didn’t lose the warrior spirit. Sasha means “defender of mankind.” 

If the Yoruba are right, I am on all counts being forcefully driven towards a warrior destiny.

And then I read this, which is directly from Musashi’s heritage:

The term spiritual warrior is used in Buddhism for one who combats the universal enemy: self-ignorance (avidya), the ultimate source of suffering according to Buddhist philosophy. Different from other paths, which focus on individual salvation, the spiritual warrior’s only complete and right practice is that which compassionately helps other beings with wisdom. (Wiki)

Perhaps my warrior destiny is for a different sort of battle, after all.

I’m curious – are you like the Yoruba? Does the meaning of your name inform who you are at all? What about the history behind it? 

How important is your name to you?


Grilled Plantain spears with crushed peanuts | Boli Bopa [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

This was warm, comforting and rich in flavor. The red palm oil lightly flavors the plantain to give it a distinct West African flavor, while the nuts add salty crunch.

What I loved least about this dish:

I was the only one who gobbled this one up. We’ve now had plantains enough times that both Keith and Ava have firmly decided that they don’t like them. This is really too bad, because I’m loving them more every day!

West African Peanut Kebabs | Suya [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

Oh, boy, everything! This garlicky, gingery, peanut crust is guaranteed to be a regular staple in our house. We all adored it. I could not stop eating it. The richly spiced peanuts make the most addicting crust and I definitely ate 2 person’s worth. Both Ava and Keith did the same – we were one stuffed family by the end of the meal. Since making the beef version, I’ve also tried it with chicken which was great, too.

What I loved least about this dish:

While the mixture doesn’t photograph very well, it’s absolutely amazing in person. Be sure to press the peanut mixture firmly onto the meat to make it stick. It helps if the meat is a bit moist (as from when you’ve rinsed it off).

Nigerian Chapman Cocktail [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

Orange soda? Lime soda? Grenadine or currant syrup? Sliced fruit and bitters? Yes, we all loved every single thing about this bubbly summer refresher. I am looking forward to my next potluck or barbecue so I can bring a gallon of Chapman.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing. There’s no one proper way to make this fruity, bubbly drink so you can’t go wrong. Just play around with it.



*Winner from this week’s Nigerian Menu Giveaway was selected by Congratulations to Camilla (she captioned Ava’s photo”Red, orange, yellow…it’s only half a rainbow of food!” … Please email me (sasha@ to claim your globe drink dispenser.


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