Planning summer trips to different countries come with lots of anticipation. You would expect to meet different people, weather conditions, cultures, and foods. Yes! Expect different foods too. Expect foods that are common, tasteful, appealing, unusual, and bizarre. And you know what, trying them out is a great way to have first-hand experience with the people’s culture. It can also foster a sense of belonging. It doesn’t hurt trying the bizarre ones as well. Here are some unconventional animals you won’t believe Nigerians eat. You are sure to come across some when you visit Nigeria. Be adventurous and try them out.
Insects in Nigeria vary in size and shapes and smell. There are edible and inedible ones also. While insects like bugs might be off-putting for Nigerians, some Nigerians take delight in eating insects like termites, caterpillars, crickets, and grasshopper. Some of these insects are eaten as snacks among adults and school children.
Termite: Winged termite is a delicacy known as ‘Esunsun” among the Yoruba, “Shinge” in the Hausa and “Aku” in Igbo. Termites are displaced during and after a heavy rain pour and they naturally fly towards bright lights. There, Nigerian harvest them and off they go to the kitchen to roast or fry them. Some add a bit of spice and oil for better taste.
Caterpillars: Caterpillars are the larvae stage of insects. Giant silkworm caterpillars are delicacies called “Kanni” and “Manimani” among the Yoruba and Hausa respectively. The larva is collected and starved for to eradicate their gut content. They are then cooked, sundried and sold in Nigerian markets. Nigerians use it to embellish their soups.
Crickets: Cricket, the common insect that cries at night is eaten across Nigeria. It is called Gyare in Hausa and Ire in Yoruba. It is hunted by pouring water into its hole in the ground to choke it. In an attempt to run for its life, it emerges from the burrow into the hand of its predictors. Crickets are eaten roasted.
Grasshoppers: Both the short-horned, multi-colored grasshoppers and locusts are delicacies to the south-westerners and south-southerners in Nigeria.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Snake: Beyond the belief that snake is evil, there are claims that it is a very good source of calcium and protein and some Nigerians eat it a lot. Snake lovers have said it tastes just like every other meat around. In the heart of Badagry, Nigeria lies the snake market, one of the busiest markets in Lagos. Live, fresh, smoked, and dried snakes are sold there. And you know what, buyers use them to cook all kinds of soups.
Alligator: Alligator is a giant type of lizard commonly found in the swamp. It is one of the classified and rare “bush meats” in Nigeria. When killed, the skin is mostly for commercial purposes and flesh eaten. Yes! alligators are killed for meat in Nigeria.
Lizard: The Nigerian civil war story cannot be complete without the mention on the Agama lizard. These redhead male lizards were eaten during the war when there was little to eat. Now, it is a delicacy for rural dwellers who catch and roast them for meat.
Frog: Frog meals is a sumptuous one in Nigeria and thriving frog market exists in different parts of the country too. They are usually roasted and skewed or cooked in a stew with spices. This should not be confused with toad which has poisonous glands. Frogs taste like fish or chicken.
What more? Cats, monkeys, dogs, and bats are also eaten. So when you see some of these in a typical Nigerian restaurant, do not freak out. It is good to try some out. You might just be surprised that what you consider strange might go down well with tongue stomach. You might even end up liking up your fingers.