Oge Mora on writing Thank You, Omu!
When Little, Brown acquired my book dummy Omu’s Stew, my editor Andrea said that we needed to change the name. “The double oo’s don’t flow nicely,” she explained to me. I verbally agreed, but I wasn’t entirely convinced. Even after we mutually decided on Thank You, Omu! I still wasn’t sure, and as I collaged spreads I debated between Omu’s Feast and Omu’s Magic. Today, as my book is on shelves, I can say with certainty that Thank You, Omu! is the right title. However for me, it didn’t come down to double oo’s. Instead, it’s because Thank You, Omu! isn’t about stew at all.
Looking back, this is why I insisted on not including a stew recipe. I thought long and hard about it, and even began to draft one, but I decided it didn’t make sense to include it. A recipe should be able to be replicated, but as my mother and I joke often, you’ll never cook or taste the same stew twice. My grandmother’s stew is a thick, spicy stew that is cooked down for hours. My aunt’s stew is thin, mild, quick to make, yet still delicious. The only thing the differing styles share is a tomato base and a red color. Like people, every stew has its own personality, and each stew is an experience that is vivid and distinct in its own right. And like a person, you can’t write that down.