This year’s festival (which held at the Muri Okunola Park in Victoria Island) seemed much calmer and when I got there, there wasn’t much of a crowd. I chalked that up to the weather as it was one of those days that teased rain. That being said, I found the weather beautiful and as the day went by, the park filled up with more and more people.
The park had been divided into three sections, the first was the main stage where most of the vendors were, and a Maggi cooking competition was underway. The second was the Cultural Centre that housed artists, books/merchandise, and the third was a general seating area with rows and rows of tables covered in red gingham tablecloths. The whole vibe was quite picnic-ky.
This time around, I tried things a bit differently. To cut my legwork short, I went and got all the food instead of trying one thing and then going back for another.
Look at this feast. Don’t worry I had helping hands with this. I’m not a glutton……
First up was the jollof abacha from 8tte’s. I think I was most excited for this as growing up, a lesson teacher of mine once brought some with her as a packed lunch to our daily lessons and let me try some. African salad, as she referred to it, is a mix of grated cassava, shredded utazi leaves and palm oil. I remember having an odd mix of like and indifference towards the taste, and thought it would be interesting to try again.
I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I think it might have been my favourite thing to eat there. The abacha came with a whole grilled fish (which made the N3000 I paid make sense) and some sort of spicy sauce. I was told by two of my friends that this wasn’t the best abacha you could get but it was decent. I realised only when i was home, that I didn’t get a photo of this because I had wolfed it down. But i did get a photo of the fish.
Next up on my list was the native jollof rice, also from 8tte’s but apparently they had done a last minute menu change and it was no longer available. I also wanted to try their ukom, solely because I had no clue what it was. However, I found out it was just plantain, so I moved on to other adventurous things.
My next stop was at Buka 2 Go to try their Thieboudienne (Senegalese jollof) and compare it to Nigerian jollof so that I could finally put an end to the ‘jollof-wars’ in my mind (just so we’re clear, Nigerian jollof 10-0 Senegalese jollof). As I was buying my Thieboudienne, the chef let me know I was pronouncing it incorrectly. The correct pronunciation is cheh-bu-jen. My bad y’all.
The thieboudienne came with half a boiled carrot (I hate boiled carrots so minus one point, Senegal), and chicken. As a whole, it as a bit depressing; it tasted like it had been seasoned with salt, and salt only.
The firewood jollof from Mo’s Jollof on the other hand, was an unfair competitor. Perfect smoky flavour, real seasonings (excuse the shade) and asun (who doesn’t love asun). I may be biased but 10/10 for the Nigerian jollof. I will give the senegalese jollof a pass this time, because I believe I should give it a try on its home turf.
Next up, I tried the Chickwobi from Captain Licious, a chicken variation of the traditional Nkwobi. Nothing fancy there really, but I was pretty excited to try it and it didn’t disappoint.
The real winner for me was the Uziza ribs from Delicioso. I didn’t even know what uziza was at first but it sounded adventurous so I added it to my list. I wast told that the ribs were marinated in the uziza (scent leaf) before being grilled, then is served with a spicy, peppery sauce that is also made with the uziza. I went back for seconds, don’t judge me.
All in all, the food was great, the atmosphere was great and it was lovely to try things I hadn’t tried or even heard of before.
10/10. Would go again.
Words by Bolaji Sadare.