What She Said: Men Joke About Marrying Me Because Of Food

April 14, 2021

Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here. This is Zikoko’s What She Said.


The subject of this week’s What She Said is Thelma Egbe, a 28-year-old woman who loves cooking. She talks about growing up in a family where the men and women cooked, growing a food blogging and catering business, and how adulting almost made her stop.

What was your childhood like?

I spent a part of my childhood in Calabar before leaving for the UK. Calabar is known for good meals — if you know you know. My parents are both great cooks so it was easy to fall in love with cooking. I lived around a lot of family so I watched my uncles cook as well.  It was when I joined Twitter that I found out that Nigerian fathers didn’t cook. 

Around when I turned 12, I started assisting my aunt in the kitchen. I hated it at first, but I learnt how to prepare dishes during that time. I became fascinated with how you could put three or four ingredients together and come up with something really tasty. Sometimes when I was cooking, I would pretend that I was on the Maggi cooking show, which was one of my favourite shows. 

Do you remember the first meal you made on your own?

It was palm oil rice and I got paid for it. I was 13.

How did that happen?

My godmother is a big caterer and she noticed how much I loved cooking. One day, she asked me to make her native rice. After she ate it, she gave me money as a well-done gift. I don’t remember how much it was, but it was big money at that age. 

What happened next? 

Cooking became more exciting when my family and I moved to England. My parents were happy to invest in ingredients for me to learn more. I looked up culinary schools, saw how expensive they were and I backed out.  

When I turned 16, I was sure I wanted to do something food-related. During this time, we were doing a course at school that required us to use Blogger. I thought food blogging would be a good way to document my cooking journey but I was worried that no one would read my work. 

I eventually started in 2015 because my friends and family thought I would be great at it. When I started, it was fun to me and for a while, it was the only thing that got me excited. 

Did you make money from it? 

For my mum’s 50th birthday, I cooked up a storm. I made jollof rice, fried rice, barbeque chicken, white rice with stew, and small chops for over 50 people. She was so happy she cried — it was a surprise. The guests at the party loved the food. Some of them even asked for take away packs. That felt like the sign I needed to go into catering. 

After that, I started catering and selling to university students, but I had to stop because it was interfering with school and work as well. I decided to focus more on blogging. I also worked on my social media pages to look like a business page so I could work with other brands.

Did that work out? 

2016 was a major year for me because I got a lot of recipes out but focusing on blogging wasn’t easy. I found it difficult and time-consuming. Cooking is easy but documenting the process is the enemy. 

What are some of the challenges you experienced while documenting your process?

My family had to eat late because I had to write down everything I did or used along the way and photograph the process as I went. Before I put out a recipe, I had to make the meal at least three times to make sure the recipe I wrote was accurate. This cost a lot of money. 

In between 2018 and 2019, I reduced the frequency with which I put out content. I barely wrote recipes during that time. 

Why? 

2018 was when I started adulting properly and it was overwhelming. I stopped living with my parents, so I didn’t always have extra money to spend. Also, I didn’t have as much access to kitchen gadgets that were a huge part of my process. My job was exhausting as well. 

In 2019 I got pregnant and I was always tired from work, so my weekends were specifically for resting. 

How did you feel about being away from food blogging? 

I felt like I was letting myself down because I had invested in it. One of my new year resolutions last year was to work my way back to consistent content. I planned to write more recipes and create more video content on social media. 

How is that going so far? 

It’s been good. I think the pandemic helped because more people had time and wanted to learn how to cook more. My social media engagement numbers are climbing. People send messages thanking me for the recipes and requesting more.

What is being a mum while blogging about food like?

At first, I thought it would affect me because motherhood is a lot, but my partner made everything a breeze. He would carry my son away from me so I have enough time and space to do my work. When I am done, I join them. 

That’s amazing. I’m curious about what it feels like being a woman that loves to cook and somewhat conforming to what society expects of women. 

People love to eat and I love to feed them. But I hate it when men send me weird messages wishing their women could cook like me. Some men joke about marrying me because of food. Most of the comments annoy me because, in a bid to compliment me, they are insulting other women who don’t care about cooking. 

What are your future plans? 

I am currently in the process of going back to selling food. I am also collaborating with a brand. This time, I am taking my time to plan well so everything runs smoothly.

Mariam Sule

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

April 23, 2021

There are not many feelings in the world that match the realization of ones queerness. These six Nigerian women share when they knew they were queer. Anita, 24 I went to one of those private catholic girls secondary schools in Abuja. In JS 1, during our visiting day, some boys came from the neighbouring “brother” […]

January 11, 2021

A hijabi can be explained as a muslim woman who wears a hijab. We got 10 Nigerian women to share why they started wearing a hijab, and how being a hijabi is dealing with a lot of identity erasure, stereotyping, fetishization, and Boko Haram “jokes”. Halima, 22 I was motivated to start wearing the hijab […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

April 3, 2020

While the rest of the world loves to treat our continent like a country, there are actually 54 African countries. So, in a bid to test your knowledge (and educate you), we’ve created a quiz to see how many of their capitals you can correctly name. Go ahead:

November 28, 2019

There are so many talented and stunning Nollywood actors that make it hard not to fall in love with them. So, while we all know the likelihood of us ending up with any of them is super low, it’s still fun to imagine a world where we actually stood a chance, and that’s why this […]

November 25, 2019

We already guessed how many people you’ve slept with, and y’all were out here denying the truth. Anyway, we won’t hold that against you. This time, however, we’ve created a quiz that predicts who you’ll sleep with next — so you can either prepare or try (unsuccessfully) to prevent it. So, take and see:

December 5, 2019

We already tried to guess how much you have in your account and your current net worth, and we think we did a pretty great job (keep any complaints to yourself). Now, we’re going to try and guess your monthly salary based on your relationship with money. Oya, take the quiz: 11 Timed Quizzes For […]

April 14, 2020

Every friend group consists of very different and specific characters — from the parent to the fun one — and it can be a little tough figuring out where you fall. So, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know exactly what kind of friend you are. Take to find out:

More from Her

black girl leaning on the wall with curly hair
September 21, 2021

“Everyone from his fraternity ran away except him, and that was how he went down. He died on school grounds. Omo, I wasn’t myself for days. That was when I realized everything everyone said was true.”

8 Nigerian Women Talk About Their Experience With Cultists

Read here:

black woman with afro smiling
September 20, 2021

Hair lice are tiny, wingless insects that live in the hair of humans. They feed on tiny amounts of blood they get from the scalp. They spread easily from comb to comb. It is especially rampant among kids.  It’s not easy to get rid of hair lice but here are a few tips that have […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X