» » The Richness of Traditional Cuisine

 

The Richness of Traditional Cuisine

Author: nick on 24-08-2013, 19:00, views: 3 424

0

Ikot Abasi food, like all Ibibio food is based on masses of fresh leafy vegetables - fluted pumpkin leaves (nkong uboong) and forest leaves (afang, ataama, editan, etc.), mixed with water leaves (mmong mmong ikong), or okra (etikke), which are available throughout the year. Vitamin-rich and cholesterol-low fresh palm oil (adan) and a rich variety of easily digested and rich in minerals sea-foods: river and sea-water fish - dried, smoked or fresh, crabs (isobo), and lobsters (nkonko), clams (nkop), periwinkles (mfi), prawns (obu), snails ekwong), etc., complement each dish.

 

The soups are always thickened and spiced with hot red pepper (fresh, or, dried and ground), cray-fish (obu) and additional ingredients like onions, tomatoes, ground melon or other seeds, grated coconut, cocoyam or pounded yam, okra, or potash (calcium carbonate, akang) and a dozen of aromatic and minty leaves and seeds: adusa, iko, ntoong, ata/uyayak, utasi; or, with sea-foods - each one of them adapted through centuries of culinary experience to a particular type of food.

 

Traditional Medicine

Healing is the restoration of harmony through the use of nature's herbs, but the greatest of healing balms is thought, reinforced by love...
Everything in nature is designed to meet human needs, but when a person transgresses the natural laws, he becomes sick. Harmony could be restored by the use of natural herbs, but caution is needed as the principle which restores health, could also destroy life.

(E. Ekpo, 1982)

Malaria, diarrhoea, constipation, worm infection and high blood pressure control - achieved through the use of herbs, included in the daily diet, such as bitter leaf (etidot), water leaf, afang, ataama, hot pepper (ntuen), etc. Every mother knows the therapeutic value of herbs from her backyard garden for controlling children's fever, eliminating worms, stopping diarrhoea or baby gripe, stopping bleeding and disinfecting wounds, or preventing pregnancy and miscarriage. Ripe sweet fruits - banana, paw-paw, plantain, etc. - were excluded from the diet, as they were believed to rot the stomach, while a medicinal plant, nyom ke iko (I don't want problem), was widely used in this aspect.

 

The ability of European traders and missionaries to live (and live well) in the area, for upwards of 20, 30, and 40 years, is likely, attributable (apart from the benefits of quinine andmodern curative medicine) to their relishing the well-balanced and healthy local diet. The famous palm oil chop of boiled yam, pumpkin leaves and fresh fish in spiced palm oil stewserved at the local Sunday dinner tables, was, obviously, more than just tasty and nourishing.

 

Leaves and roots are pounded to break the fibres and make them soft and palatable. The one-pot cooking (stewing and steaming) retains the vitamins, minerals and food flavour and conserves fuel, time and energy. The daily preparation of food ensures that no left-overs are allowed to ferment. Meal times - late morning brunch, after early morning work, and a late afternoon meal, on the return from farm or evening market, fit work and rest periods together and provide an opportunity for picking fresh ingredients for the meal.

 

Meanwhile, the children are offered quick snacks, like fresh or roasted coconut with pear (eben) or boiled/roasted corn (abakpa), boiled sweet yam (enem) or sliced cassava (edita iwa or mkpataka), or, garri with efere isong, ukwoho and otong soups, made of fish/cray fish, hot pepper and salt, mixed in water or palm oil, and - in Eastern Obolo - dried or roasted prawns, crabs and fish, which assuaged their hunger, while the main meal for the day is being cooked. Fruits like pineapple (okono inyang, eyop mbakara or white-man's palm fruit), oranges (sokoro), coconut (isip mbakara or white-man's nut), ripe grapefruit, banana (mbooro), avocado (eben mbakara or white-man's pear), paw-paw (udia edi), white-man's mango (okpod), etc. were imported by Portuguese traders and West Indian missionaries, and are late, but delicious additions to the local diet.

 

Roasted, hard food was preserved for the warriors, who needed to be hard and strong. Root crops, like yam, of which there were several varieties: white yam (udia), the tough yellow akpana, the aerial root (edomo), sweet yam (enem), water-yam (ebre), and several species of cocoyam (ikpong, esimeka, ikpong mbakara), sliced or grated, boiled, roasted or pounded, are the basic accompaniment of stews/soups. These have been gradually substituted since the war years with cassava, another root crop, which is processed through grating and fermentation into foo-foo, or through processing and frying into garri granules, which could then be soaked in water (hot or cold) to provide a glutinous carbohydrate substance. Several types of maize (abakpa) and beans (nkoti) supplement the protein mixture of meat - beef, chicken, dry/fresh/stock fish, snails, sea-foods, pork and bush meat, usually mixed together in the same pot of soup. A traditional Ibibio delicacy, the fat white bait (odudukudu) from the fallen plantain stem is still well esteemed. The Norwegian stockfish/dried cod (ekporoko) reached the Nigerian shores during the pre-war period and became an immediate favourite, along with the traditional bush meat, obtained from hunted in the 'bush' forest animals i. e. antelope, porcupine, pig, monkeys, ant-eater, etc. During the Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970, stock-fish and bush meat helped for the survival of the war affected population.

 

Favourite dishes like abak (from palm oil and leaves), afia efere (of yam sauce with fish), ubehe abakpa (cooked corn with pumpkin leaves), usung abakpa (ground corn with leaves in palm oil), iwuuk ukom (unripe plantain with leaves in palm oil), iwuot ebot (goat head with spices), nsaat unam (dry bush meat cooked with unripe plantain in palm oil) or pepper soup (with dry or fresh fish, beef, goat meat, chicken or dog and elephant meat (among the Eastern Obolo) are prepared for special occasions by the women, who enjoy the all day affair of group cooking, interspersed with jokes, gossip and songs. In Eastern Obolo, where fresh vegetables are scarce, but seafood from streams, river, coastal sea and the open ocean is abundant, soups like okra (usung edege), afang (usung afang), fresh cray-fish soup (usung ndek ikot), and oyster soup (usung efie), thickened with oysters (efie and ndori), periwinkles (ntutut), prawns (ikem), clams (uriong), and with added barracuda (adot), catfish (obu), sting fish (ikpan), shark (aba and ofiong), and sea snails (ngbut and egumu) make the most delicious and nourishing meals with special seafood flavour.1

 

The kitchen, as the backyard garden, is traditionally a part of the women's quarters, where through the drying agency of fire smoke, ingredients were dried and preserved in perforated, open or closed, clay, calabash, bamboo and basketry containers. Grinding pots and stones, and various sizes of mortars (udung) wooden spoons (ikpang), meant for different purposes, knives and the universal matchet, were indispensable kitchen equipment. They still are, though modern materials - plastics, metals, glass and porcelain - have come into use. Economy, utility and versatility, in both design and usage, remain characteristic features of the Ikot Abasi kitchen.


Great attention was paid in the past to the training of girls in cooking, good housekeeping and social manners - by their own mothers, at home; by the elderly women, placed in charge of the mboppo training; and by the mother-in-law or senior wife of their prospective husband. For a wife was expected to satisfy her husband's taste for food, entertain successfully his visitors and relations, and participate in the communal cooking, eventually passing her experience and recipes on to her own daughters.


Tea, bread and biscuits, milk and sugar, sardine and corn-beef which arrived in barrels and tins during the 19lh century trade and were popularised through the European household and mission school life-style, have remained desirable, but, often, inaccessible imported food items. They are, however, unable to satisfy the healthy Ibibio appetite for heavy pounded food and rich leafy and meaty stews, soaked in palm oil and drenched in hot pepper and crayfish.


Traditional food, which was eclipsed during colonial rule, is now coming back into lion. Local dishes are being offered in all food outlets in Ikot Abasi, from the mama put, the local food kiosk at the corner, to the small trendy restaurant in the township, charging a reasonable price for a tasty excursion in African cuisine.


The rich in electrolytes and nutrients coconut water, the most refreshing drink in the hot African sun, is kindly offered fresh from the coconut palm in the Ikot Abasi villages.


It is not possible to conclude about Ikot Abasi food without mentioning the staple drink - ukot or palmwine. Obtained from the versatile wine palm, which grows freely in the freshwater swamps and supplies various useful products, the fresh tree sap is improved in taste through the addition of powdered tree bark (edat),2 and is served in various stages of fermentation and with the appropriate fruit condiment - nkarika, ukoho, mkpa-edong, ntuen ibok, nnya, etc. - at all social events and gatherings. It is taken early in the morning - to give energy, and after food - to help the digestion and neutralise the food poisons, or at any other time of the day - as a stimulant.


Once a week and on special occasions the palmwine is declared communal property and enjoyed free by all (Jeffreys, 1935 and Nicklin, 1980). Abang isong, the large decorated earthenware pot, adorned with fresh palm leaves when used in serving palmwine at ceremonial gatherings, is still valued as a symbol of communal unity, peace and fellowship (Nicklin, 1973B). Every lineage (ekpuk) owns at least one palmwine swamp, and individuals plant and guard the wine palms in their backyards.


No settlement or cross-road is without a local palmwine bar, a thatched bamboo/clay structure with low bamboo benches, advertised by upturned on a branched stick calabash cups (ukpok) at its entrance.

 

The Chewing Stick

 

The chewing stick, the African 'toothbrush', which has great medicinal value for maintaining mouth hygiene, good digestion and free from infection intestines, is obtained from the 6 meter high tree (Napoleana imperalis) with a dense crown of two-tone blossom clusters. A bundle of 20-25 sticks, which sold at 20 Kobo in the 1970's, now sells for N 5.00.

Abang Isong, the palmwine pot, specially commissioned and communally owned, from which an elder filled the calabash cups of men, in order of precedence (usually age), and then, of women, in the same orderAbang Isong, the palmwine pot, specially commissioned and communally owned, from which an elder filled the calabash cups of men, in order of precedence (usually age), and then, of women, in the same order

 

Fermented palmwine is used in the production of the fiery local gin, called akaikai, ufo-fop or ogogoro, which successfully competes with the expensive imported gin. The colonial authorities were astonished at the great increase in sugar imports at Opobo port in the 1930s-1950s, and found it difficult to stop the local illicit gin production, especially in the face of prohibitive prices and scarcity of trade gin during the war period. The police raids succeeded only in driving the local distillers underground, deep into the Ogoni and Andoni forest swamps, where the practice continued undisturbed. The famous mimbo (palmwine) and the spiced ufo-fop (gin) remain the stimulating refreshments and pillars of social intercourse in Ikot Abasi indigenous circles.

 

Notes


1 The terms used in this passage are from the Eastern Obolo language The author in indebted to Rt. Rev. and Mrs. E. E. Nglass of the Uyo Anglican Diocese for information on and demonstration of the Eastern Obolo cuisine.
2 Edat tree bark was traded from near Essene to as far as Uyo district (Hanitsch, 1927).

скачать dle 11.1смотреть фильмы бесплатно

Category: Ikot Abasi

Dear visitor, you are browsing our website as Guest.
We strongly recommend you to register and login to view hidden contents.
Information
Users of Guests are not allowed to comment this publication.