Finding Nigerian food in a foreign land or most western countries is no joke!
This is one problem I believe most Nigerians that live abroad especially in the west will have to deal with as a matter of fact at one point or another. For Nigerians that live in other parts of Africa, it wouldn't be such a big deal.
Okay, here's the real deal:
For some of those Nigerian foods that you can find here in America in particular "African Stores," they are either dried or frozen such as dried "oha, lante, utazi, etc. leaves. "
No Nigerian food? I can't deal.
Growing up all I have known and eaten is Nigerian delicacies, but in the light of currently living in America, I am faced with the truth that after all, I do not have the luxury of enjoying my favorite meals at will.
It is important to realize that even though there are supposedly "African stores," sometimes or somewhat in most times those stores may not be located near you. Currently, my situation, in this case, the African closes store is 2 hours and a half drive. To enumerate finding Nigerian food can sometimes be tiring. Last weekend I made this all-important journey, and it wasn't funny at all. I didn't get everything I wanted, and the distance was not shorter either.
I hear you say, *yikes*
Seriously, it sucks! On the positive side, here’s how I deal with this situation.
Solutions to finding Nigerian food in a foreign land:
Firstly, find grocery stores.
Check out other grocery stores in yourself area especial especially the Mexican, Caribbean or farm markets they may have what you need to jumpstart your Nigerian or African meal. Currently, I don’t have African store in my area, so I make use of the stores around me, mostly, the farm market and Mexican stores.
Secondly, search for a substitution.
You can find a substitute for the Nigerian food ingredient. For instance in Nigeria, we use fruited pumpkin leaves (ugu) a lot. In fact dishes like egusi soup, vegetable soup, okra soup, etc., are seen as incomplete without ugu. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find ugu leaves here in the United States, so I substitute with spinach. And it works well if not better.
Finally, the freezer is your friend.
The freezer is your friend when you know you enjoy your native meals, but you probably live several oceans and continents away. Whenever you find that "store" where you can get your condiments, be them frozen or dried, be sure to gather enough and stock in your freezer.
In reality, most of the African seasonings that you can find from African store (or other stores) are either frozen or dried. For instance, most vegetables, only very few condiments arrive in the West in their natural state such as palm oil, yam tuber, melon seed, etc.
With this in mind, make do with what you have and create your meals with love.
Are you a Nigerian living abroad? Or do you live outside of your own country? How and where do you get your native condiment? Please share in the comment.
Did you enjoy this post? Do not hesitate to share you never know who will find this informative.
Until we meet again, friends do not forget to Use your wings.