Some inhabitants of other remote and somewhat sophisticated states might blindly argue that their turfs play host to an encouraging number of cuisines. But now that food has become something of an art, Nigerians, notwithstanding their tribal sentiments, can assertively mention the clime where food—in their various aromas and looks—holds a kind of cult figure. Lagos, the cultural nerve and capital of West Africa, is the stage for the impressive display of delectable assortments of meals, diets, staples and food.
One striking thing about the Lagos food tradition is the fact that it exposes the world to an array of the different meals peculiar to every ethnic group in the country. This reality is attributed to the fact that, people from the over 250 ethnic divisions that Nigeria houses, flock, in their hundreds, to the ‘gold-paved’ streets and idyllic streetlights of the city, hoping to strike gold in a city that holds, in its underbelly, the mythical ‘Greener pasture’. As such, these people, in tow with their unique food cultures, encroach on the Lagos landscape, in a symbiotic relationship. The civil avails them with an unlimited barrage of ‘hustles’ while they, in turn, bless the city with their interesting foods.
Over time, everything from Green Vegetables to the soft and hard edible part of fruits, leaves and trees, have found their ways into the culinary spotlight of the mega city.
Another interesting phenomenon about the gastronomic uniqueness of Nigeria’s mega city is that the opposing class structures have helped, in no small measure, in forging an ‘according-to-your-social-class’ food and diets structure. The upper class occupiers are often seen trooping into the coziness of the numerous sophisticated eateries and food outlets—the likes of Tantalizers, KFC, TFC, Sweet Sensations, etcetera—that abound for their lunch or brunch while members of the middle and lower classes respectively are content to dine at the ‘not-so-cosy’ food outlets that are in large quantity. The end result is that all three social classes get food, daily.
From the cosy flourishes of exquisite eateries in V.G.C and Ikoyi to the equally tasteful meals of ‘mama put’ food joints in Orile, Lagos plays host, a magnanimous one even, to a limitless dose of interesting culinary elements.
Apart from the heavy dishes that serve as the main dish for famished bowels, the city also has, in abundance, an infinite number of what is sometimes regarded as refreshments, on the streets. These ‘light refreshments’ also serve as the main course for some people on the lowest rung of the Lagos social strata. Meals like Roasted Plantain-‘Boli, Boiled and Roasted Corn, Home-made Plantain Chips, Kilishi, Suya, Date-Palm, Bread and Butter, Roasted Yam, Beef and Sausage Rolls, Boiled Groundnut, ‘Buns’, ‘Puff-Puff’, and a host of other interesting edible objects are seen on the city’s boisterous streets. These edibles, in their various elements, also display the diverse cultures and traditions of people, from some of the tribal denominations in the country that are sheltered in the underbelly of Lagos.
Other than being the economic, social and cultural nerve of the most populated black nation on the planet, Nigeria’s foremost Mega City could be arguably regarded as a hybrid of diverse cultural gear, as reflected in the meals and cuisines peculiar to these tribes.
Be it on the Island, or take a trip down the mainland, you would be shocked at the food-selling outlets that dish out various ‘concoctions’—if they could be called that—that represent a range of tribes. These cases help in re-enacting on Lagos streets, artistic elements and vibes of some of these ethnic groups.
In its own little way, Lagos city is a microcosm of the larger spectrum called Nigeria, especially in the aspect of an inexhaustible list of food materials that are visible on its exciting streets.