We support your japa plans 100%, but are you mentally prepared to give up Nigerian foods? In this article, nine Nigerians living abroad confessed how costly it is to get their favourite Nigerian meals abroad.
I moved to Alberta, Canada, 11 years ago. My older siblings thought it would be great to get a master’s degree and work my way into the system. They were right, but no one prepared me for how much things would change, particularly with food.
I went from eating fresh fruits literally plucked off my father’s farm trees to eating mushy canned fruits.
The fruits that weren’t canned (e.g. mangoes) tasted odd to me. I can’t explain how, but they didn’t taste as fresh as the ones I used to eat back in Nigeria. It was later I learnt some of the fruits here are genetically modified to get bigger.
I’ve been in Canada for 10 years, and during the dreary winters, all I crave is pounded yam and banga soup littered with bush meat, kpomo and dried fish. Since I left Nigeria, Chinese food has been my staple because it’s the cheapest food option I actually enjoy.
I can’t even imagine trying to shop at the African stores in Calgary. And trying to get my siblings to ship foodstuff from Nigeria is so stressful. The ones they sent at the beginning of the year  still haven’t arrived, so, until I’m back in Nigeria, I’ll have to manage Chinese food.
I moved to Rwanda in 2019 to start a pepper business. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. But the food? Not so much. I went from having aunties, nieces and a sister who’d cook for me to figuring out how to cook my own meals. The culture is very different — the women I dated in Rwanda weren’t bothered about cooking the typical soups I liked. Once they served me fried potato chips, that was it. No one was stressing.
To be fair, Rwanda doesn’t have a lot of food options. I’ve gotten used to it though. I eventually started cooking meals for myself and the Rwandan woman I’m currently dating. I still miss having someone whip up a nice plate of banga and starch sha.
I moved to Boston, Massachusetts five years ago for my undergraduate degree in 2017. Amala and ewedu from Lagos is something I really miss. I hate that I have to make it on my own when I could’ve easily walked into a buka back home. Imagine spending $10–$20 for only ewedu here. Luckily, I still get to beg my mum to send amala flour to me.
I moved to Dubai in 2017 for my master’s degree. The list of things I miss getting on a regular basis from Nigeria is plenty, but one thing I can fight someone for right now is ipekere and elegede soup. Ipekere is like akara made of corn and fried into shapes like churros — it stays crunchy for days. Elegbede is a native soup from Ondo state.
It’s not like I don’t get local food in Dubai. I tend to cook more than I eat out, but foodstuff here is so expensive. Takayama for instance. The last tuber I got cost like 30 or 35 AED. That’s about ₦4,500–₦5,000 for one small skinny tuber. Even ata rodo (habanero pepper) is around ₦10k for 2kg. At this point, I go to the store once a month to get everything I need because even transportation to the store is another wahala.
I moved to Germany for a PhD in 2018. Nothing tastes the same over here. I have to cook a lot of things myself and even then they don’t bang. Maybe it’s because I use an electric cooker and not a gas cooker and I’m tired.
I just stopped being able to cook Nigerian staples like jollof rice because every time I tried, it was just underwhelming. Now, I pay someone in Berlin ₤60 to deliver jollof rice to Braunschweig which is almost three hours away.
But what I miss the most is soups like oha. Getting that in Germany isn’t quite as easy.
I moved to Cardiff in 2000 as a Chevening scholar. I was married at the time with one kid, but my family couldn’t come along with me. I liked the idea of trying new foods in England, but when it came down to it, nothing felt as satisfying as waking up to pounded yam and egusi back in Nigeria. The English chicken soups, mashed potatoes and nuggets didn’t compare. And as someone who’d never had to cook my own food, the transition was hard.
The first time my wife and son visited me, I had to beg her to bring soup. I don’t know how I expected that to work, but I was desperate for any kind of Nigerian swallow after six months in Cardiff.
When I was 30, I got into a master’s program and moved to Scotland., where I’ve lived since 2008. I’m not crazy about Nigerian food, but the one thing I miss is our spices. Pepper soup spice has to be on the top of my list because I still ask my sisters in Nigeria to ship them to me at least once a year.
Since I moved to Alberta, Canada, four years ago, I haven’t had cereal. Finding good powdered milk has been a struggle for me because the liquid milk here makes me feel bloated. The taste isn’t my favourite thing either.
It’s not sustainable to have powdered milk delivered from Nigeria so I don’t bother. Hopefully, I’ll find something I can sustain, but for now, no cereal for me.
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