My first night on the drive from the airport in Lagos to the hotel I asked if I could grab some dinner. The driver stopped at a place called Sweet Sensations and told me he had to stay with the car, so I should go in on my own. Mind you, I had been traveling for 17 hours, had waited one hour for my bags in the (non-air-conditioned) airport, and had no clue what I was supposed to do. But thankfully it was a buffet style place where you could just look and see what you wanted, tell them, and they would dish it up for you. And thankfully I know a good number of names of foods, because there were definitely no labels. I got myself some Jollof Rice and chicken and went on my merry way. It was so entirely satisfying, wow, what a simple but delicious first meal:
On the trip from Lagos to Ife I saw lots of people selling various foods along the side of the road. As I had gotten up to leave at 7am and the drive was 3 hours, I was getting hungry towards the end of the trip, but I was also not wanting to be TOO bold in my first 24 hours and end up with some crazy stomach issues because I had eaten street food. However, towards the end of the trip I saw what looked like puff puff and was like I WANT THAT. The drivers laughed and said, “You know what that is??” Yes, yes indeed. They got some for themselves and some for me, but it was not in fact puff puff (fried dough balls, Nigeria’s version of doughnut). However, it was a friend ball of corn something-or-other, and was very tasty.
Throughout the week I’ve had all kinds of Nigerian staples. Here are pictures of a few of my meals.
Fried rice, fried chicken, and fried plantains:
Amala, egusi soup, fish, and chicken. There are lots of “paste” type things here (aka ‘swallow’ if you’re familiar with that term) made by mixing boiling water with flour from different vegetables. Amala is made of yam flour and is the lightest one (some sit like a brick in your stomach for hours after, ugh). You eat with your hands and take a bit of amala in a ball and scoop up some soup. It’s delicious:
Moi-moi (wrapped in a grape leaf). I had this for breakfast one morning. It’s a bean cake of sorts, and this one had bits of hard-boiled egg and fish in it. This isn’t my favorite favorite but it’s ok:
Pap. This is kind of a corn custard/pudding, that I had never eaten before. This was the first thing I didn’t really care for. Even with sugar in it, the taste was strange to me. It’s not a strong flavor, but I just didn’t care for it:
Fried fish, boiled potatoes, and veggies. I had this towards the end of the week, when I was a bit overloaded with spicey and ‘new’ flavors. Simple, but really tasty:
Jollof rice, fresh fish (catfish), and salad. My first Saturday we journeyed a 3 hour drive to Ijebu in Ogun State for a 70th Birthday party (more on that later), and I had this tasty food there. The fish was seriously incredible. I had no idea I’d be eating so much fish, but I like it:
Star beer. This is one of the most common beers in Nigeria, kind of the “Budweiser” of the country. It’s a nice lager, I quite enjoyed it. (Side note- the largest Guinness Brewery in the world is in Nigeria. Guinness is EVERYWHERE here.):
I also ate pepper soup one night, though I didn’t take a picture of it. It’s a spicy spicy soup, and I had mine with catfish in it. The waitress was very concerned when I ordered it, thinking I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Oh man, it was so good, and not even as spicy as the ones my friends in Romania made. I’ll have to get a picture of it the next time I eat it. All this writing about food has made me hungry, so I'm off to find something new and tasty to eat!