Street Food Culture In Abeokuta, A Harvest Of African Cuisines
Street food and bukka joints are forever loyal. Singles and young hustlers benefit wholesomely from this.
On my trip to Abeokuta, I made it compulsory to experience the best of Abeokuta local food in every possible way. Talking about the best way I could, I realized eating in local restaurants such as bukkas and very healthy street foods is the way.
Traveling is a lot more interesting while experiencing the food culture of a community. Without such, a traveler haven’t really had an experience. Luckily I am living in a country with a great food culture and a striving culinary tourism that has the potential of bringing great experiences to locals and foreigners and local delicacies has a great way of fostering such.
I am lucky to have experienced the best of Abeokuta local delicacies at the time it was freshly harvested. As a rule on my trip, I ensured I ate local, I abolished every temptation to eat in one of the conventional fast foods such as Mr Biggs, Sweet sensation or any other. I wanted to eat from the steaming hot pot on top of the fire wood, I wanted to taste real local food and abolish the thought towards Nigerian bukkas and Street foods as unhygienic.
Abeokuta Delicacies on my list were: white and black Amala with gbegiri soup, ofada rice wrapped in leaf, roasted or boiled corn with coconut alongside any other local food available. WARNING – You don’t have to eat it all at ones, just little at a time so you don’t get full bowel too often since you are going to be on the street most of the time, also saves you money from paying public restrooms.
Abeokuta had a list of amazing food available at the time I visited and the fact that it was rainy season, of course a fruitful month of harvest and every meal available was fresh from the soil. I was lucky to have been part of enjoying such a fruitful and amazing harvest.
Corn at the period I visited was the reigning snack. In Abeokuta, corn is made in varieties, the popular Panseke popcorn sold at the bus stop of Panseke located a few minutes’ drive from the popular Olumo rock. There, students line up in their hundreds to have a pack, it appears every one of them pledged loyalty to the Popcorn, well I was initiated too.
In case you don’t know, corn don’t taste same everywhere, Abeokuta corn is carefully roasted, they are no dark or burnt patches and they are freshly done, probably because the sellers are well taught in the process. Abeokuta roasted corn is soft and crispy, unlike those made in Lagos which stands the taste of time before they are taken to the market for sale or roasting.
Visiting bukkas and tasting the best of local delicacies made eating out in Abeokuta a whole lot interesting. The sumptuousness of Abeokuta white Amala and Ewedu soup is something everyone should look forward to when visiting the big city. To quench my curiosity, I asked the bukka woman what makes it special, she said ‘dis one no be Lagos Amala o, this one na the fresh one we dey dry and grind am for here’’ and yes I could attest to that.
Abeokuta ofada rice is one of the best yet eaten anywhere, especially the ones served on the street, of course I had a taste of it. On the day I was to leave, I pestered my host to take to me where I will taste a well-made ofada rice, wrapped in leaves. So we headed to the street of Panseke in Abeokuta, we didn’t have to search for long till we saw a hawker. I would say this again, I love street food culture in Abeokuta, the hawker served us Ofada rice wrapped in a green leave decorating the rice with a peppery stew and assorted meat, shoko, shaki, pomo and my favorite – Liver.
Got to Sogbamu Village in Abeokuta very early in the morning and right there seated in circles were some men and a woman with their farming tools drinking palm wine. After a few minutes and a last gulp, they said goodbyes, climbed their bicycles and headed out, to the farm. So this is me thinking, these people begin their day with African Palm wine and they are old and agile even a Woman included. I bought a bottle before leaving for Lagos, stored in the fridge with the intention of doing same till it finishes.
After I have had enough, I knew it was time to head back to Lagos.
As an attraction? Nigerian street food is beautiful enough for displays to tourists, it has such serving aesthetics – The wrapping of ofada, the art of serving Amala with Ewedu or gbegiri soup, remember the beautiful contrast and how it appears in pictures? Imagine wrapping roasted crispy corn in a paper.
Truth be told, Tourists usually don’t have access to our local food on a visit, except for those who dare to go into the streets like I did.
What if we introduce a local food gallery at tour sites and a guide to restaurants at the site where they can have a taste of the meal?
Imagine how beautiful it would be if we have these street/local delicacies available in places where it will be easily accessible to these foreigners in proper hygiene, let’s have them give our delicious ofada a try, the roasted corn wrapped in paper, roasted boli and groundnut, or maybe the ones served with red oil or pepper stew, let them have a taste of a freshly tapped palmwine, well presented, they would want to come again.
We have good soil, why not tap into our strength?
Now I am seriously thinking, which city am I eating in next?