Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hungry Hungry Veggie

Nearly two weeks here in Nigeria now; I've finally gotten to try some local food. It's been tough finding anything I can eat. Nigerian's put fish or ground-up crayfish in nearly everything. It's like their version of Southern pork.

The first attempt at eating out wound up being not really Nigerian. We had asked around at several eba places only to find that all the veggies had crayfish. Strike-out number 1. So we settled on shawarmas. I really liked shawarmas in Zambia and was excited to be eating them again. Except in Zambia, we could get cheese ones. And here, they mixed ours up and gave me chicken. Yuck.

The next day, Dr. Y took me to a place called Chicken King for moin moin (moy moy). moin moin cropped It's a jiggly sort of bean cake. We were very careful to ask if it had crayfish in it. It did not, so we ordered some. No crayfish, but it did have corned-beef in it. Strike-out number 2.

After our sadness with the moin moin, we went to the house of Dr. Y's friend. They discussed possible dishes they could make for me to try, while I tried the local 'health' drink, Maltina. I cannot understand how this is possibly healthy. It looks like a stout ale; it's carbonated; and it tastes like a mix of rootbear, real beer and dirt. I think it's an acquired taste.

Still hunting for Nigerian food, we headed towards my house and found a lady on the corner selling akara, fried bean cakes. No crayfish, no corned-beef. We have a winner! Greasy but yummy and small, I had five. When I got home, one of the girls here made me eba (finally!) with groundnut soup. It was oilier than the groundnut sauces we had in Zambia, and spicier, but it was still good. It had pumpkin leaves and egg in it, too. After all that, is it any wonder I was sick that night and most of the next day?

Now I only get two akara at a time, not five, and I'll pick up an orange or slice of watermelon from the men next to the akara woman to balance out my snack.

I also tried cola nut last week at the conference. cola nut croppedYuck! Dr. Y showed me how to break off a small piece. So I took the little piece and chewed it. It wasn't too bad. Then I wanted to take a little more, but I couldn't get the piece to break as small as Dr. Y did. I just put the whole thing in my mouth. It was so bitter! How do people chew this all the time? I had to move away and get rid of it; I couldn't stand having it in my mouth.

Since the cola nut, things have improved. This weekend Dr. Y, one of her friends, and I found a guy selling roasted maize by the roadside. It was very very yummy. I love roasted maize. Luckily, it's one thing I can easily get and make myself at home. (See camping.) But today, today was the real treat. Not only did I get to try plantain chips, we found one of my favorite African, can't-get-it-at-home, treats. Sugar cane!! Cool, sweet, refreshing. Slurp, slurp, chomp. Sticky juice running down our chins and arms. It was soooo good!

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