I absolutely adore African food – I made it a point of duty to eat everything from amala, eba, party jollof rice, beans, moi-moi, yam porridge, nkwobi, and that peculiar Cally town culinary delight of Ekpangnkukwo as well as a sampling of soups – ogbono, egusi, afang, editan, afia efere (hmmmm), and even gala and several FanMilk icecreams flavours all in the space of 12 days. In fact, the ability to make piping hot akara is a key requirement of the future Mrs DB!
However, since my 2001 epiphany occasioned by a brief foray into the overall efficiencies of thermal power systems, I have as a matter of principle stopped eating pounded yam. The crux of my argument is that preparing it is so energy intensive that short of eating a double size helping, there is a net loss of energy.Back in the day, we would peel the yams, get them boiled in a pot and then transfer them to a mortar where they would be pummelled into a sticky paste of the consistency of dough for making bread. Considering that at the end of boiling, they were good enough to eat (and I typically fished a few pieces of yam to get a head start on procuring energy for the pounding session), why did we have to go the extra length of pounding them? Did it add more energy to the yam? (Newton would suggest that that was not the case) Or was it merely for the satisfaction of eating pounded yam? Arguably, it probably tasted better pounded than when eaten as mere yam, but in the light of the energy usage was it worth the incremental satisfaction. I would beg to argue that it didn’t.
Of course, we can now buy yam flour (which may contain sulfites by the way), or pound the yam electrically (which is still an added energy use – albeit without the aching arms and tired limbs that physically pounding it came with). But if the thoughts of my iyan loving friends are anything to go by, it doesn’t taste like the real deal! My advice – quit eating it altogether, or only eat it at a Mama Put joint so that the extra energy cost of preparing it borne by someone else. That may be the first step in signficantly reducing Africa’s contribution to green house gas emissions!