…or Around Nigeria in Peculiar ‘Meat/ Protein’ Names!
Still celebrating our peculiarities ahead of Independence day!
When it comes to naming a dish, Westerners tend to go for elegant, sophisticated titles that make you want to taste the food no matter how daunting the meal may appear on paper. Caviar, haggis, stargazey pie, jellied eels and black pudding in my opinion are all very forgiving names considering what’s taking place on the plate.
Well Nigerians don’t dress dishes up in pretty little words that roll off the tongue. No – we tell it as it is; additionally, Nigerian food is unique so of course the names of the distinctive dishes have to be one of a kind as well, right?
Today I’m going to walk you through a few side-splitting names (in no particular order) and the reasons that earned them a place on this list. BRACE YOURSELF!
- Man-Know-Man (Cow ‘parts’ AKA gende)
Yes you read that right. Man-know-man is a male cow’s parts.
I suppose if you’re a man or a woman that has had the ‘privilege’ of seeing male parts before, you would be able to identify the male organ on your plate hence the name – man-know-man (not the more common meaning which is to do with a person gaining favour because of who he/she knows).
The delicacy is soft and oily and is usually cooked in pepper soup or fried with pepper and onions and picked at with a toothpick like asun and gizzard and word on the street is that it is absolutely delicious! “It’s a shame the portion is usually small when you order it though,” a foodie grumbled when I inquired about the unusual dish. I suppose that’s because cows are only born with one, lol.
I haven’t tried it yet so no photo for now :).
- Fear Face (Fowl Nyash/bum)
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘When breeze blow, fowl nyash go open‘? Sounds like a deadly fart right? Lol. Well it isn’t, it’s the Nigerian way of saying that whatever is hidden will eventually be exposed, like the spongy bum of a fowl. In conclusion, fear face is basically when you get caught in a lie.
Back in the day children were told not to eat fowl nyash because it would make them tell lies, which links to the proverb mentioned above, but I kind of think that was so it would be left for the adults because it’s considered one of the yummiest parts of the bird. I shiver though – no thanks, eat it, I don’t want!
At this point, isn’t it interesting to see how proverbs, sayings and wise words are very much entrenched in the Nigerian language and lexicon?
- Homework (Cow leg with some soft bones)
Appropriately named because of how difficult it is to get the flesh off the bones. It’s a chore but well worth it once you’ve managed to peel off the meat and suck all the juicy marrow out of the hole, like homework.
- 404 (Dog meat)
Nigerians named dog meat 404 after the popular French built pick-up van, Peugeot 404. Whether this is due to the animal’s ability to run fast, like the car or because the dogs were transported from the north in 404s, who knows?
Calabar people are usually accused of being the only dog meat lovers in Nigeria but it has become clear over time that dog meat is enjoyed in many other parts of Nigeria. It is usually cooked in pepper soup, eaten with white rice and washed down with local gin or palm wine.
Now a 404 wouldn’t be complete without its:
Headlights – a dog meat dish with the eyes as the central component,
Gear box – the dog’s heart, liver and kidneys (usually more expensive than just the meat) and,
Tyres – the dog’s legs, which many claim will make the person that eats that part of the dog’s body run fast like a dog.
Nigerians have even named the animal’s tail, telephone, because it is long and curly like a telephone wire!
Nigerians don’t stop at just naming the dishes o! Even the way the animal is killed has a name. For example sentencing is when you kill the dog by clubbing it to death rather than humanely slaughtering it for the dish. I shiver. Dogs are clearly nobody’s best friend in Nigeria!
- Roundabout (cow and other ruminant animals like goats and sheep intestines)
Roundabout is the intestine of a cow. It is shaped like a roundabout, hence the name. Most people probably wouldn’t order it on a regular day but if they are eating spicy ofada stew, they are more than likely to ask for roundabout to be included.
- Show Boy (Pomo)
Pomo is processed cow hide/skin and is nicknamed show boy because of its popularity, like a show boy, a performer, a celebrity. It is so popular that former president, Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 faced serious opposition when he wanted to ban the consumption of the meat for health reasons.
- Point-and-Kill (Catfish)
This refers to catfish which Nigerians love to eat in pepper soup. The dish is called point-and-kill because when you visit a bar or restaurant in Nigeria and you order the meal, you are asked to point out the live catfish that you want to eat and then it is promptly killed and served to you. Fish doesn’t get any fresher than point-and-kill!
- Fuku (the animal’s lungs excluding poultry)
Fuku is boiled, fried and sometimes grilled. It’s part of a family of ingredients Nigerians eat, which is why you will sometimes hear it referred to as ‘orishirishi’ (Yoruba) or ‘afa anu’ (Igbo) meaning – ‘many many things’. So basically if you go to a restaurant and order orishirishi in your soup, you will find a variety of animal parts in your bowl.
- For Show (Periwinkles)
This member of the seafood family has definitely earned its name because periwinkles are like supermodels, beautiful to look at but not meaty at all. It is commonly eaten by Ibibio and Efik people in soups like Edikai Ikong and Afang. I often see people trying and failing to crack and suck the periwinkle out of its shell and I just think to myself, this guy forget it – just admire the peeping turquoise and look for beef to chew!
- Jumping Chicken (fried frog)
Jumping chicken is fried frog. Frogs hop and those that eat them swear frogs taste exactly like chicken, so fried frog = jumping chicken. Jumping chicken has become popular in recent times due to the soaring price of chicken in the market in the current economic climate, so popular that one dealer stated he earns approximately 20,000 naira a week from sales within Nigeria and exports to Asia where frogs have been a household staple for years. Frogs are also sometimes coated in pepper and roasted on a stick like suya.
Last but not least…
- Genesis and Revelation (head, neck and leg including feet of fowl)
Genesis is the first book of the Bible (head) and Revelation is the last (leg). The head is at the top of your body and your leg is at the bottom, so behold…the meaning of the dish. I was wondering when scripture would enter the matter LOL.
What other hilarious food names have you heard?
[PS: I’ll be bringing you a special report/ Soundbites on 404]