“Our famous Warri beans pie is actually an intercontinental dish”, was what his Whatsapp status read, and because I’d lived in Warri, I actually knew the snack he was referring to. I commented on the post, we had a good laugh, and then, this conversation.
As told to Memi
Up until I left home in 2017, I’d thought everyone knew these foods, or at least, heard about them. But every time I reminisced about the street foods I grew up on, I raised a few brows — and that’s when I realised how unique they are.
I’d never learnt how to make any of these foods, even though I knew most of the ingredients and processes involved by heart. The food just slapped better when it was bought off the streets of Delta State. Not having access to these foods now, has to be one of the biggest culture shocks I’ve experienced moving to the East.
I grew up in Delta State, Warri to be precise. And in my 20-plus years, I just might’ve tried all the street foods available there; from madiga to kpokpogarri, esikpokpo and abolibo fish even. But if I had to choose one, it’d be madiga paired with corned beef and Blue Band margarine.
Madiga is baked flour, like bread but stronger and in small hand-size squares. I like to think of it as a local jawbreaker because I don’t think anyone can go through four without having a toothache. I don’t believe there’s anyone in Warri who hasn’t had madiga because it’s everywhere there.
If you want to add a twist, you can eat it with esikpokpo — pork stock or juice, if you may. I know how it sounds, but you’d be surprised how great it tastes.
We had a woman who sold snacks in my high school, and for sure, most of my pocket money went to her. When I wasn’t obsessing over madiga, it was coconut candy — fried coconut shavings wrapped in honey — and on some days, Kpokpogarri — dried cassava sold with groundnut, salted or not.
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While others looked forward to Sunday rice, I couldn’t wait to have the end-of-service bean pie. My parents attended an Anglican church and the services went on forever, my friends and I would sneak out during service to buy beans pie. It remains one of my fondest childhood memories because it a Sunday ritual. I recently watched a Hollywood movie in which they mentioned beans pie, and since then, I’ve been bragging that it’s intercontinental. I said what I said.
Speaking of internationally-recognised foods, I was once in an argument about this particular fish dish I liked— abolibo fish — it took a Google search to prove it exists. Nigerians are quick to cancel anything they’re not used to, but I think you have to at least try the food before cancelling it. For instance, maggots — yes, edible worms, fried and lined on a stick. The best ones are gotten in traffic before entering the city proper.
An honourable mention: Banga rice or oil rice. The catch here is it has to be eaten straight from a nylon. You literally just cut a hole at the tip and press the rice out. It doesn’t matter how old I get, this would always be the way to eat it. If it’s served on a plate, I don’t want it.