Monday, December 22, 2008

Eba & Egusi

I visited Nigeria last month for the first time in almost 20 years. I grew up right next door in Ghana but have never felt the need or desire to visit Nigeria. It is much larger than Ghana in size and population, plus because of their natural resources, they are also further developed in terms of infrastructure, industry, etc... But Nigeria is known for her hostile business environment and aggressive business people. Comparatively the Ghanaian seem a lot more laid back and peaceful. While in Nigeria I was eager to sample some of the local food. I am extremely fond of Ghanaian food and I was holing for something similar. Due to unforeseen circumstances I found myself stranded in a small place in Nigeria called Benin City. It is actually home to one of the worlds oldest civilizations called NOK. I remember that from my anthropology class. I never could have guessed that I would one day visit the city. That night in search of food, I found my way to a chop bar that appeared to be located in someones yard. This sign was posted on the garage wall.

And just to tantalize patrons further, there was this sign...

I ordered the Eba and Egusi. I believe the Eba is the white starch ball in the back. It is similar to Fufu but not as moist. The Egusi is a kind of stew with bitter vegetables and meat. I asked for chicken but I am not really sure what I ended up with.

I also had some of this delicious pepper soup, which is basically just a spicy chicken broth with meat. You cant really go wrong with that.

I was surprised to see that the most popular beer at the bar was Star, which is what I believed to be Ghana's national beer. But the folks in Benin City claimed that Star is actually a Nigerian beer. I don't really believe that but I was not about to put up an argument at that point. Not where I was sitting.

Over a few beers it is easy to make a few friends. One of the dudes was the guy from the airport who saw me running on to the tarmac only to see my flight pull away. A tiny dual propeller aircraft.

Plus there were some awesome highlife tunes blasting through the area from the massive collection of speakers hooked up by this old school DJ. He had the most gnarly home made DJ kit that I have ever seen.

Ending up in Benin City for a night was a total fuck up and I ended up missing an entire weekend with friends. It was one hell of a day trip that started with me rushing to the airport in Lagos, getting on a small ass plane to Benin City, driving 2 hours through the jungle to a site, then turning around to make the same journey back. We drove like bats out of hell but missed the flight by just a few minutes due to a police blockade. There were more than a few close calls. All's well that ends well. As for the Nigerian food, it tastes decent, but nowhere near as tasty as Ghanaian food. Not even by a long shot.

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