A Yoruba Woman’s Guide to Pepper

Stereotypes are boring, and often harmful and untrue. Remember Chimamanda’s speech about the danger of the single story? Yes, it’s pretty solid.

That doesn’t include Yoruba people and pepper, however. This one is 100% true, well...in my family anyway. I always imagine what the first Yoruba person who discovered pepper was thinking or must have thought. It must have felt like an iconic discovery, and it was.

This is one stereotype that I fully embrace with my chest and as a certified pepper-crazed Yoruba woman, this is a guide to enjoying pepper in your food.

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Rule #1

Add pepper to every and anything you’re cooking and eating.

Making pancakes? Add pepper.

Smoothies? Puff puff? You better add a sprinkling of dried pepper. What is life without some spice?

[Ed Note: “Spice = Pepper” is a very Tobi thing]


Rule #2

This rule follows rule 1 closely. When you’re adding pepper to all your food and culinary experiments, add copious amounts. Seriously, what’s the point of adding pepper if the flavor will not overwhelm all the remaining flavors? Pepper should be all you can taste. And if you’re not leaking from all your facial orifices after eating, then you obviously didn’t do it right.


Rule #3

Sick? Down with malaria? Typhoid, or even migraines? Eat (or is it “drink”) pepper soup. Seriously, you’ll feel better.


Rule #4

When you go out to eat, regardless of the restaurant, fast food joint, ice-cream parlor or even party, carry dried pepper with you, so you can sprinkle it on whatever you order. Can’t have bland food on your spice-trained taste buds. Ever heard of akabanga? You can put that stuff in your carry on when you fly.


Rule #5

Never forget rule numbers 1-4. Rinse and repeat.

 

If you think all of this is jokes, then you obviously haven’t clocked or even worse, have forgotten the health benefits of pepper in food.

Let me remind you:

Nutritionists, who know what they’re doing, have told us that pepper contains nutrients that help improve metabolism, relieve joint pain, reduce acidity in the digestive tract (I know it sounds weird, but yes), reduce the risk of cancer, help in curing cases of flu and confuse your migraine.

Remember rule number 3? Yoruba people, like me, have that down pat.

Okay, I might have overdone it a bit with some of these rules because as we all know pepper is actually a great way to spice your food, but it doesn’t belong in everything, and definitely should be used sparsely -except in extreme cases like with pepper soup, then you can go all out.

It does not belong in pancakes, and definitely not smoothies.

I don’t mind it in puff puff though, I am Yoruba after all.

Recommended restaurants for Business Dining in Lagos

It took me recurring poor experiences to get this straight, that just because one had a nice dining experience with a couple of family and friends at a restaurant doesn’t make it a good idea for a business dining. By business dining, I mean, meeting with a new business prospect or a team meeting/bonding sort of thing. Many times separating church and state are important, you don’t want the waiter hailing you when you’re out with a client.

Another consideration is that while some restaurants look the part, they just don’t get the nuances of group meetings and set menus. Or they are just not structured to accommodate the heightened demands that come with business dining. So if you’re looking for a great place to go as a team, here are five restaurants that make the shortlist

Ed Note: Since we stopped running the Ask Eat.Drink.Lagos column in favor of the bot, lots of the “help me choose a restaurant” emails have disappeared but not the “help me choose a restaurant for my office dinner” ones.


The George

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I like the George for two things. First, it is the various arrangements to choose from. Meeting rooms, board rooms and lounge areas that have all that vibe of corporate finesse. Then, there are restaurant dining areas for either private use or outdoor lounge. The George’s mode of operation is sorta built with businesses in mind.

 

Radisson Blu

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Radisson Blu is somewhat similar to the George in terms of the availability of board rooms, meeting rooms and other arrangements to choose from. Except you are using a private room or a hall, you don’t have to make a reservation, but be sure to get there earlier, to secure a spot before your business prospect arrives. If it is a team bonding sort of dining and you are open to the outdoors, Radisson Blu will make a cool choice.

 

The Avenue Suites

On the three occasions that I have been to Avenue Suites, the restaurant was almost empty. Well, it could be the time of the day. I can’t think of any other reason because their food and service were satisfactory. For this reason, the fantastic views and for the large dining area, I would recommend Avenue Suite for a business dining, hands down.

 

Southern Sun

If I were to choose a spot on Ikoyi axis, I would go for Southern Sun first. There is this ‘discreet’ spot on the first floor that is perfect for a team of not more than 5 people. In case you’re wondering why not Wheatbaker for Ikoyi, I was going to have it listed considering that they have had this business dining thing down pat for a while now, but it seems they have gotten so familiar with it, and you know what they say about familiarity.

 

My Coffee Lagos

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I like coffee shops or cafes. They are usually my first go-to for a first time meetup and even casual interviews. The chilled ambiance does it for me. My Coffee Lagos at the Wings complex will do a lot to impress your business associates.


Based on this list, it does seem that restaurants with hotels or better put, multinational hotels with restaurants tend to do well in this domain of business dining. But again, not all.

For example, I won’t recommend Eko Hotels except for a brief meeting because a lot is always going on there. Another thing is that a restaurant can have the sitting arrangement that’s quite spacious for big groups but simple things like the loud ambiance music at Hard Rock (and they kept mixing the orders up) can make it less appropriate for your work function. Don’t get me started on Shiro insisting that we make an outrageous deposit even when it was emphasized that we were not throwing a party.

Do your offices have any preferred restaurants for meetings? You know those that you’ve been too for the past 3 years but your HR manager refuses to change, let us know!

Hey Eater! Came to Lagos

This weekend was an exciting one, because we’ve been following Hey Eater and @didunho for a couple years now and we finally got to attend one of her events. She mostly hosts pop up events in London where she’s based and has only held one other event in Lagos before now, so when we saw something was happening in Lagos, we were over joyed. Our excitement was so much so, that we decided to reschedule Trivia Night to Sunday over its usual Saturday slot.

We ordered one of each thing from the menu below.

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July 13th ! Reserve tickets ASAP 💥

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We figured it’ll make sense that way because we’d get a chance to try everything and split it between ourselves. A good idea in theory but in real life as you can see the portions were pretty small.

Messy Burger

beef burger patty, braised short rib, cheese sauce, crunchy slaw, brioche, rosemary and truffle fries

Popcorn Chicken

yaji popcorn chicken, buttermilk biscuit and honey butter

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Gnocchi

plantain gnocchi, roasted pepper sauce, basil, mixed leaf salad

Doughnut

blossom sugar puff doughnut, supermalt icecream, salted caramel

If you’re in the Abuja area, you can try out @didunho’s food at The Pavillion Restaurant at Atelier hotels. She’s the executive chef there!

More Than Ice-Cream: A Sweet Tooth’s Guide to Frozen Treats

Frozen treats — particularly ice cream — are for every emotion and every season. Whether it’s cold, you’re sad, it’s sunny or you’re mad, a frozen treat is sure to leave you happier than it met you.

Most of the time, when people think ‘frozen treats’, they think ‘ice cream’. At best, they’d think ‘frozen yogurt’. Contrary to popular convictions, there are a myriad of frozen treats available to tickle your taste buds at any given point in time.

Does ‘sorbet’ or ‘sherbet’ sound familiar? Does ‘gelato’ ring a bell? Here’s a guide to some of the most popular frozen treats the world of sweets has to offer:

Frozen Custard

Frozen Custard is a super creamy treat which bears a lot of semblance to Ice Cream — save for the fact that it has an egg yolk base. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), frozen custards have to contain at least 10 percent milkfat and 1.4 egg yolk solids per weight. These treats are commonly found in the Midwest or South of the USA

Froyo from Pinkberry

Froyo from Pinkberry

Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yoghurt — often called ‘Fro-yo’ by annoying people — has become increasingly popular as the years have gone by. While there is no FDA-approved definition to frozen yogurt, these treats are notably lower in fat than classic ice cream. Their tart flavour sets them apart from many frozen treats. Sweet Kiwi and Pinkberry have carved a nice little niche for themselves with Frozen Yogurt.

Gelato

Gelato means ‘ice cream’ in Italian. However, gelato, as we know it, is pretty different from what we recognise as ice cream. Just like ice cream, gelato has a custard base. It varies from ice cream in the sense that gelato is denser. This can be attributed to the fact that it has less air churned into it during the freezing process. Gelatos contain less milk fat and no egg yolk, as well. Also, gelato is traditionally served at temperatures warmer than ice cream. This gives it a softer, glossier texture. Hans & Rene serves gelato (and sorbet) not ice cream.

Gelato from Hans & Rene

Gelato from Hans & Rene

Ice Cream

A favourite across the globe, ice cream is pretty straightforward in definition. According to the FDA, any frozen treat that contains more than 10% milk fat is deemed ice cream. Milk fat percentage aside, the treat must also be churned during freezing and be sweet.

With ice cream, feel free to get adventurous with flavours, toppings and everything in between.

Sorbet

Sorbet is the perfect frozen treat for individuals who are either lactose intolerant or do not fancy dairy — vegetarians. Sorbet is made with water, fruits and sugar. The mix is churned in an ice cream machine, which gives it its unique texture but it contains no dairy whatsoever.

Ice Cream from Ice Cream Factory

Ice Cream from Ice Cream Factory

Sorbet is usually as a palette cleanser.

Sherbe(r)t

Sherbet is the lovechild of ice cream and sorbets. At the core, sherbet and sorbet are very similar. They are both made with fruit and sugar. Sherbet takes it up a notch by with the addition of milk milk. The milk fat percentage is kept at minimal levels — less than 3%.

Slushie/Slush/Slushy

Slushies — or however you choose to spell them — refer to frozen carbonated drinks. Think Coke or Fanta when it’s been kept in the fridge and it forms those little flavoured icicles.

Professionally, these are made by churning these beverages while frozen. The churning takes place in a machine that doubles as a dispenser.

Granita (Italian Ice)

Granita is very similar to sorbet. They contain the same ingredients — fruit base, sugas and water. The only difference between granita and sorbet is the texture. While sorbets is smooth, granita has a rough, loose texture, which leaves them looking like icy flakes.

What Can You Eat Instead of Chips?

It’s National French Fries day! Some of us call it chips, while others call it fries but we all know it’s yummy!

Here’s a short history lesson: despite the name, french fries did not, according to some, originate from France but rather from Belgium. According to Belgian lore, the people of a small fishing town back in the 1600s were unable to fish in the dead of winter with the river frozen over and so in a bid to not starve, they turned to cutting and frying potatoes in the way we all know and love. The term ‘french fry’ had been coined by American soldiers stationed to francophone Belgium. Other historians argue that french fries originate from a street vendor on the streets of Paris in the late 1890s. Without the invention of the time machine, we might never know the inventor of the greatness that is french fries, nonetheless, we are forever grateful for it. 

In the decades and centuries, after it’s controversial birth, the french fry has taken on several forms and goes by many names like the finger fry, chips, etc. While nothing can ever compare to french fries, there are always other options. So yes, on this iconic day on which we celebrate fries, I’m here to tell you all the other things you can eat instead as a substitute for potato chips.

Fries are an excellent side for many dishes like burgers and can even serve as an integral part of a dish itself like in the case of fish and chips, but if you really don’t want chips, you can try any of these:


Carrots

Hear me out, hear me out. Carrots can be an amazing, healthier substitute for french fries. It’s a delicious and vegan option and slaps when seasoned properly and baked. Carrots are good for people like me, who are practically blind.

 

Sweet Potato Fries

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This is another tuber that can be a made into fries- and is already done in many restaurants and with several recipes. Due to its natural sweetness, it makes for a delightful substitute for french fries and is more versatile- it can be baked or fried.

 
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Yam

This shouldn’t be too surprising to any Nigerian. Yam is delicious when fried and is in fact, a personal favorite. The pepper sauce is essential.

*Tip: when frying yam, add a little water to the oil to make inside of the chops soft, the oil would take care of the crispy exterior. You can skip this if you prefer to be choked by your food.

 

Plantain

Members of the Dodo gang, rise up! I’ve always said and will continue to say it: plantain is elite food. In all its forms, plantain slaps and fries made from it are not exempt. Plantain fries is top five. 10/10 I always recommend. 


There are other substitutes, apparently, like eggplant and avocado but I refuse to accept those. Firstly, nothing can be as tasty as actual French fries and definitely not certain things that have the same texture as vaseline.

If you know any other proxies for fries, do let us know in the comments!