Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nomnomgeria - a repost

I posted this on our family blog about a year ago after my visit. So these are the thoughts of someone who hasn't lived in Nigeria for a year:

I enjoyed the food in Nigeria. This was my breakfast at the hotel. Starting at the top and going clockwise, that's a wedge of pounded yam (dry) standing in the place of a hash brown, boiled potatoes (teeny), boiled eggs, your standard buttery roll, and fried bananas (yum!).

I think I had fried bananas 3-4 times in the 3-4 days I was there. We're talking staple food. Add to that banana bread and hearing about multiple banana recipes and I know there are bananas in Nigeria. I mentioned once upon a time on my work blog that Ugandans eat about 3 times their weight in bananas every year. I figured that I eat Joy's weight in bananas, but not mine. That may change out there.

The chickens and cows are a lot leaner than ours, so even though there is chicken and beef, you get a leg-thigh combo at it looks like wing. There's a lot of fish. A lot.

Apparently you have to know the right places to shop for food. There are plenty of people willing to sell you meat, for instance: they carry it in baskets in the hot sun all day to wherever you will buy it. So you talk to your friendly neighborhood expats or your cook or someone and they'll get you to the safer, higher quality meat. I was thankful I had brought dental floss with me because the meat was remarkably good at fitting between my teeth.

Or you come here to the University Club (members only) for drinks and dinner. Restaurant meal - $6.50. Two pools and a jaccuzzi, weight room, volleyball, tennis courts. Nice place. Friday is pizza night. Saturday there are vegetables you can't find otherwise, likes broccoli or eggplant. They play some games, mostly just hang out and chat.

One of the trusted places is a store called Luka. Luka's was described as "a Walmart inside a 7-11." The place, as you can see, is packed tight. My instructions from Joy were to find out what foods they had, and I figured the fastest way to do that was to take a lot of pictures. So I went around every aisle taking pictures like these of everything on the shelves.

It's also a little like Cosco in that, if you see something you want, you get it because the odds are it won't be there next week. This candy was brand new, for instance. A month or two ago they got in some Christmas treats.

Cereals, spices, rice
Deodorant, makeup, nail care
Shirts, hot pots, sandals
More bug spray than you can imagine
Bread, eggs, water, juice
Canned veggies, canned fruits
Heinz, Mayo, Mustard,
Bleach, furniture polish, carpet cleaner...
The list goes on and on.

I had to explain to just about everyone I met what in the world I was doing. The store owner behind the counter was also mighty curious. I explained that I was coming back in two months to live and shop there and my wife wanted to know what they had. He was satisfied.

For contrast, the video shows a few seconds of driving through the "modern market." It's modern because it is newer than where the old marketplace was. You pay 20N to get in (~12 cents) and then it's small stalls packed in TIGHT. Food, clothing, fabric, electronics, movies, you name it.

The family I was staying with mentioned that the one time living in Yola is not cheaper than living in the US is food. Particularly if you want to buy all the Western brands from Luca's. Calculating from what they spend, it might be a little cheaper for us overall, but it's also clear it'll be another dietary transition for us: carbs are cheap and plentiful, meat also plentiful, but the fruits and veggies are much further between. That, and you shouldn't use the tap water to wash your veggies.