Hi, I’m Mitya, my pronouns are she/her and I’m a food critic and tourist. My food ick is I have a problem with people who soak garri with groundnut and milk. And for an Igbo person, I don’t like ukwa. Something people don’t know is I’m reticent. I’m always expected to be outgoing and the life of the party, but I’m that millennial you’ll find sleeping at the club by 4 a.m.
Confession time. I remember seeing you on my timeline, always eating a lot of eggs
Oh no. You know the crazy egg lady. I used to talk about her like she never existed and tried to deny her. Those were dark times. But eating eggs is a big part of my diet. I support Ghanaians; eggs can go with anything. Egg in pepper soup, ogbono, banga and okro soup slaps. I’ve decided not to be in the egg closet anymore, so I’m coming out now to say I’m proud of it.
I… Wow. Was that how you got into mukbangs?
In 2020, I went on my first food tour of Akwa-Ibom. While I was there, we got the news COVID had hit. I was with my sister and friends, so we had to return to Warri. It didn’t take long before there was a lockdown. I’ve always had a passion for food, so when I couldn’t travel to create content, I decided to start making mukbang content. For me, it was trying to show the world what I’m capable of through eating, basically, for bragging rights. I got into mukbangs because I love food. Food for me is better than love. It’ll never break your heart.
How many states have you created content in since then?
I’ve made content in Asaba, in Delta state, which is where I live. I’ve been to Port Harcourt, Yenogoa, Oshogbo, Abuja, Lagos, Maiduguri, Ilorin and Ibadan. Just seven so far.
How did you stay safe in Maiduguri?
After I went to Maiduguri, I realised all the rest of Nigeria sees is stories about the bombing and crises. I’m not a fearful person; I have a lot of passion for what I do and a “you only live once” mindset, so I don’t care if I die doing what I love. So yes, I went there because I needed to tell their story differently from what mainstream media shows. I understand it’s dangerous, but there’s a lot more happening in these places.
You’re fearless o
Actually, Maiduguri was peaceful when I was there, but the surrounding towns weren’t. In fact, after I left, I heard about a bomb blast in Maiduguri. But before you ask, I can’t wait to go back there, that’s how much I enjoyed it. It’s a secular state, and while I tried to blend in by wearing a hijab, there was no need to. I met friendly people, and they have Christians there too.
And what about the language barrier?
I kept meeting people who spoke English. Many people speak Hausa there, but it’s not a major dialect in Maiduguri. I wouldn’t have known that if I’d never visited. I also got to eat a bunny there.
What does a bunny taste like? Wait, don’t answer. What are some other weird foods you’ve eaten?
I wouldn’t say weird, but the most challenging thing I’ve tried was the edible worms/tree lava called “Bayelsa suya”. It’s a major delicacy in Bayelsa, and while I wasn’t crazy about it, it’s an acquired taste. In Maiduguri, there were locusts which tasted like dried shrimps, camel meat slow-cooked over gas and a roasted bunny rabbit.
Does your day job fund your mukbangs?
Yes, but it’s not a nine-to-five. I co-own a food consulting company. We hire staff for restaurant development, social media management/strategy, staff training and tour guides. I mean, travelling and eating are expensive.
What’s the most and least expensive state you’ve been to so far?
Both my Abuja food tours were costly. The cheapest was Osun state. At a point, I was even begging people to take my money there.
Travel to Osun, noted. Do you have a favourite state you’ve visited?
No. Every state has its special memory and amazing food, and I wouldn’t compare them. Eating local dishes in their states of origin hits different. It’s like the dish is telling you a story, and my job is to tell stories about the culture of people through food. Nothing connects people like food, not even football.
What are the best and worst things people have said about your mukbangs?
People have told me I’ll die soon, or be hospitalised, and I’m wasting money. Some have said I only do this because a man is funding me. Despite all that, I love when my old followers are proud of me and acknowledge my growth. Or when I leave food reviews, and people tell me it helped boost sales.
There’s also my dada. Being my biggest fan, he’d comment on every post and help me shoot videos; he still does these things. I got him to participate in a mukbang contest one time, and he won. People loved it. He’s where I got my appetite from.
How fulfilled do you feel?
I don’t always feel fulfilled — sometimes, I get imposter syndrome — but what I do makes me happy. If I wasn’t creating mukbang, I’d be a poet. In fact, I’m a poet. I just didn’t blow with that one. All I want from life is to keep doing things that help me express myself.
What’s something you wish food content creators would do?
I feel like sometimes, we are passive about our Nigerian dishes. I don’t see the excitement or flair we give western foods. I’m very pro-African food; my social media is full of it. Afro-fusion is nice, but our dishes are magical on their own. All of us as content creators need to shine more light on Nigerian Cuisine.
That’s why when I travel I make sure to showcase the traditional dishes of that particular region. There’s much more to Nigerian cuisine than suya, Jollof rice, Egusi soup and fufu, and food content creators across Nigeria can help showcase that.
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