Jonathan Pinto gets a special preview of this Sunday’s Nigerian feast at the Optimist Community Centre
I’ve never tried Nigerian food. So when I came across a “Taste of Nigeria” meal happening this Sunday in Windsor, I knew I had to find out more.
I got in touch with Angelina Ebegbuzie, the gregarious project manager for a fledgling organization called Nigerian-Canadians for Cultural Educational and Economic Progress (NCCEEP).
She invited me to meet her and a few others from NCCEEP for lunch, where I could get a taste of what will be on offer this weekend.
NCCEEP president Abiola Afolabi was one of the women there. She told me the genesis behind this event is to introduce non-Nigerians to their food.
“We all enjoy pizza — but it’s because somebody took the initiative to introduce it here. We love tacos — it’s because somebody brought it here,” she said. “So we would like people to know jollof rice — it’s awesome. And puff puff. And chin chin. And egusi soup.”
“We’re hoping that some day, it’ll just be part of the Canadian mosaic,” Afolabi explained.
Jollof rice is a one-pot rice dish flavoured with tomatoes, peppers and onions. “If anybody knows anything about Nigerian food, [jollof rice is] usually the first thing that they know,” Ebegbuzie said. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)When I first called Ebegbuzie to talk about trying some Nigerian food, I stressed that I didn’t need a full meal. I told her perhaps we could just talk about jollof rice, a one-pot rice dish flavoured with tomatoes, peppers and onions that is very popular in Nigeria.
What I arrived to, however, was a full fledged Nigerian feast.
Shortly after the tour, the six of us sat down to enjoy the meal. To get the full Nigerian experience, I was encouraged to eat my meal by hand, which I happily obliged.
I enjoyed every bite.
One of the highlights for me was the fufu, a simple item made with ground yam and hot water. While technically a porridge, its pizza dough-like consistency allows it to be consumed more like a flatbread, where you rip off a small piece and dip it in a soup or stew.
If you’re interested in trying Nigerian cuisine for yourself, the Taste of Nigeria event takes place Sunday, December 10th at the Optimist Community Centre on Ypres Avenue.
Doors open at 1:30 p.m.
Jonathan Pinto is CBC Windsor’s food reporter. Hear his latest tasty story every other Monday at 4:45 p.m. on CBC Radio’s Afternoon Drive with Chris dela Torre, and at 6 p.m. on CBC Television’s CBC News Windsor with Arms Bumanlag.