With my Trainers
Here I am with owner, Bola-O and his partner Oghosha, being treated like a V.I.P! I honestly said nothing about writing a blog, I just asked for a carry out menu. Next thing you know, I was being seated at a table with a huge plate of food.
I'm not one of those people who likes to eat by myself, but as it turns out, I didn't spend much time alone. One host, one waiter and two from the kitchen, kept stopping by begging to know what I thought. Then, Oghosha took on the role of personal trainer as he described how I must be introduced gradually to Nigerian food. "Ahhhh!" he laughed when he saw my plate. "You have not even stepped onto the continent of Africa! We will do this slowly, with many visits."
There are quite a few African shops and restaurants on this section of Bissonet, so what made me stop here? No it was not the name. (I should have asked why they gave this Nigerian restaurant such a Colonel Sanders type name) And no it was not the welcoming building... which you may recognize as a very worn looking Bennigan's.
I give credit to a sweet caregiver at my mother's nursing home, who argued one day, that this was the best African food in town. She wasn't arguing with me, but with another caregiver from Ghana, who clearly believed "Ghana House" was better! Another day...
Here is Shaddy, showing me a case with meat pies and sausage rolls and some packaged bean dishes. I really planned on just taking a menu and coming another time, but Shaddy's enthusiasm made me consider at least taking home a sample from the heated display.
Before long Shaddy and another young woman from the kitchen were eagerly discussing which foods they thought I would like. Shaddy wanted me to sit down and try FUFU, which I still am not clear on. There was a lot of debating between the two, but I was getting more caught up in their accents. It made me want to know more about the languages in Nigeria. I know English is their National language, but I believe hundreds of others are spoken.
Shaddy finally said, "If only you would sit down and eat, we could give you the best!" So I sat at a nearby table and let them serve me.
So Much Food!
Shaddy handed me a complimentary meat pie while the main dish of "Jollof Ri" was being prepared. That would have been enough. This gigantic serving of rice, chicken, beef and plantain became a whole new meal the next day as leftovers! There is no way I could finish this dish.
I was pleased to discover the meats were not too spicy, but later learned from Oghosha that this was the mildest beginning to experiencing Nigerian food. He explained the progression of meals I should have, to build myself up to the complicated spices in the more authentic dishes with curious names like "Amala, Eba Tuwo, Lafun..." Goat, snail...lots of goat!
Here I am thanking my two friends from the kitchen who talked me into staying so I could experience some of their foods. I have never been so surrounded by such eager servers and staff.
Two Things I Learned
(besides what I learned about yummy Nigerian food)
1- Dining alone actually allows for more interaction.
2-When a restaurant is welcoming, customers give more in praise and tips. (so is the economy making restaurants friendlier these days?)
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.