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A Food Day in Benin: Akara, Snails, Pounded Yam and Ogbono

Hi, I'm Oluwalanu and I am on a journey around Nigeria to learn about the beautiful and rich culture of our ethnic groups. I recently traveled to Benin to explore the culture. Today, I'll talk about the Benin foods I ate.


For months before coming to Benin, my mom who is Benin had been telling me about the hot crunchy akara they make on the streets every morning. I didn't know this before but Benin is known for its great akara. This is what Bini people typically eat for breakfast.


So, on my food exploration day, I of course started off with akara for breakfast! Early in the morning, mom and I set out to Ogbelaka street to speak with one of the akara sellers and of course, buy some. When we arrived, the seller had just started frying the akara for the day. She did not love the idea of being on camera but she was willing to explain how she makes the akara. She also showed me the akara mix and the ingredients she uses. The ingredients were grounded beans, onions and small green peppers. You can watch my experience below.





I am not a big fan of akara but I really enjoyed this. I think I liked it better than the ones I usually have in Lagos because it was really crunchy. It was like fried chicken lol. The next time you're in Benin or if you're ever there for the first time, make sure to go and try the akara on Ogbelaka street!



When I was a child, once I entered the kitchen and saw a huge Ghana must go of snails, I would know my grandma had come from Benin ❤️


After breakfast, my mom and I went to the market to see where Bini people get their HUUUGE snails. Snails are a huge delicacy in Benin. The seller in the market explained how they pick them from the surrounding forests on the outskirts of the city. Snails are also expensive. After we finished speaking with the seller, we bought 30 snails for N25,000 ($44). I watched them kill and watch them. Watch my experience in the link below.


https://www.instagram.com/reel/CWLicUCF18l/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link


In the afternoon, I decided to eat something very familiar, pounded yam, ogbono with snails. Like many places in Nigeria, pounded yam is THE swallow in Benin. Pounded yam was my favourite swallow growing up and still rivals amala in my heart once in a while.


In my grandparents’ generation, ogbono was the go-to soup to eat with pounded yam for Benin people. That is still my favorite soup to eat pounded yam with. However, when I was growing up, my grandma or mom would always make pounded yam with black soup and I think my mom prefers black soup as well.


My siblings and I would always joke about why it was called black soup but some of us still enjoyed it. Black soup now is just as popular as ogbono with pounded yam. These are the two most popular Benin soups.


For me, ogbono has always been my favorite soup so, we arrived at this bukka on Igun street, that’s definitely what I chose to eat with pounded yam and snail. The food tasted great but this one couldn’t match up to my mom’s ogbono. I even told the bukka lady, “this ogbono is not like my mama makes it o 😂”.

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a writer and illustrator from Lagos, Nigeria.

 

In 2015, I started a company called IheartLagos with the aim of showcasing Lagos culture in a unique and fun way.

 

That journey took me down an exciting path, discovering and learning so much about Nigeria.

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