Of Joints and Bukas
I have never been a big fan of Bukas(let me be more refined and call it Bukateria) not necessarily because i’m posh/tush but basically or should I say I am not generally a foodie. I over-select food(no wonder i’m still a size 8 after many years-is it stunted growth?)
I grew up loving “mede-mede”- chocolates, beverages, sweetened cereals(cocopops/fruit and fibre). I tried different chocolates, even went to the extent of telling all my girlfriends and boyfriends coming from ‘jand'(The-Abroad) to bring just chocolates for me. Thankfully, I stopped my choc-eating habit in 2015. I haven’t tasted any this year.
So, back to the topic. I get interested when girls visit bukas/joints and relay their experiences to me. Gone are the days when females are frowned at for eating out instead of cooking their own meal at home.
I initially had a problem of not being able to taste any food not cooked within my home by my mum. I just didn’t want another taste. But boardinghouse proved me wrong altogether.
Some naughty girls had mastered the habit of eating out so well back then in university such that they knew when not to wash their hands inside canteen bowl before and after eating(fear of getting addicted as a result of juju). Irrespective, they kept going back there mainly because of Amala and ewedu. Places like “iya number 1” gained wide acclaim back then in school.
In school area where I lived, there was ‘iya eke'(ekesifier) who majored mostly in rice and beans. All the Adeoye Toowos and Lola Ajalas know what i’m talking about. So she(i won’t mention her name) dragged me to Ekesifier one early morning and while I was shaking and casting furtive glances around frantically so that friends won’t see me, she snapped me out of it. ‘did you collect money from anyone’s father to pay for your meal? So why stress yourself over a plate of rice?
She also took me to “Alata milk and honey”. I didn’t eat on this day, I just watched silently. Not knowing it would become my favorite place shortly after 500l and I was writing my project. I had no hostel and had to travel home every week.
Well, all those points are just by way of intro.
Sometimes in 2013, I had an appointment with dad in Maitama and we were early so he decided we should go and eat. We then went to eagle square. It’s a popular place where you have several options. You’ll see Mama Edo, Akwa Ibom Kitchen, Iya Ondo etc. You’ll know each type of food they sell by their names.
So we went to the yoruba section where I was told to order first. So I said rice. Dad ordered pounded yam. His driver asked for Amala. Lo and behold, when my rice was brought, I couldn’t eat it. It was white rice with an awful looking stew. Meanwhile, I watched as dad relished his mountain of pounded yam and as Mr Dare surmounted his Amala. #poorme#
So I made some mental note to visit again on my own just because of the pyam. So each time I was in town and hungry, I rushed down to eagle square for only one food-pyam. It got to a point that all the ladies there became familiar with my face and would greet me very well and without asking, they’ll bring me the usual. Same soup, same meat type, same swallow. It got embarrassing and I stopped going there.
….until I heard of Iya Oyo at Wuye. The first time I went there, it was out of curiosity like ‘what’s the hype really about’, what did she put in the food for you? I heard that my married neighbor frequents the place as well.
If you have been in abuja for a while and been living low key, this is actually a place where you can run into folks from your village who breezed into town, old friends from wayy back, enemies and old toasters alike.
The first time I went there, I was a bit shy. I didn’t eat there, but took the food home. So I read on facebook that some of my admired acquintances who are in the city also visit this place. I am yet to run into anyone I know.
So, I still maintain my pyam eating habit. That’s the only food I eat outside since I am far from home.
When I went to Iya Oyo one year after my ‘maiden visit’, the place was already expanded. Big, small, flashy, non flashy cars are always parked in front like you are attending an APC political rally. I think iya oyo’s joint is what makes Wuye popular.
I was there in January for the ‘usual’ with two meats(very big) and as God would have it, I didn’t see any familiar face. No time for back-slapping or someone staring into my hot iyan and ogunfe. So I balanced well and enjoyed it. Trouble was, the 2nd meat proved too stubborn. I tried and tried but could not cut it. By then, my companion had finished his meal and was waiting for me. He told me to leave the meat. My heart broke. I was torn in between leaving the meat or wrapping it in nylon. I looked around, no one was looking. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to take it. So I stood up sheepishly and went out. Till date, I still dream about that meat and I regret not taking it.
Kindly drop your comments. If you live in the city and would be willing to take the writer on an iyan outing, kindly indicate.
Note:the identity of this writer has been protected