Strange Combinations and Dietary Shockers: A Case of ‘Stella and Bread’

In everyday Nigerian parlance the word “combination”, regarding food, connotes meals that consist of unlikely combinations. Meals are essentially combinatorial products; chips and chicken; a stew made of vegetable oil, tomatoes, pepper, fish and condiments; or pineapple fried in batter. People without effort appreciate these combinations as customary, but others appear shocking and strange to them.

Take a look at a meal of ‘kola nut and akamu’ (a.k.a. ogi, kunu or corn pap)! I have seen someone eat that and when I told some people about it, they said maybe the guy was using it as a prescription of magical traditional medicine. I have seen someone eat an ‘amala sandwich’ (bread, butter with a wrap of amala in the middle)! The first time I saw an uncle of mine eating  ‘bread and coconut’ I was shocked, but a trial convinced me that it was not bad at all. Even ‘rice and yam’ with stew seem odd to many while millions of other Nigerians eat it.

Drinks also have “combinations” such as Guinness and palm wine, ogogoro (local gin) and palm wine, burukutu and beer, Guinness and evaporated milk (a rumoured aphrodisiac), monkey tail (ogogoro and marijuana roots), Guinness and (non-alcoholic) malt etc. Both Guinness and ogogoro are very versatile ingredients in the “combination zone”.

I would not go into the cultural and historical reasons why certain “combinations” are eaten in Nigeria as meals today. Such may will generate unnecessary ill-humour about ethnicity. Health issues, the side-effects of medicines, alternative medicine prescriptions, peer pressure but perhaps most of all poverty are responsible for people eating combinations. I like ‘cheese and onion chocolate’ and ‘snail and chin chin’.

The latest combination I have seen is ‘Stella beer and bread’! And it happened in London! The reason behind that “combination” I may never know, but it wowed me all the same. ‘Bread and Fanta’ (or Coke) was at one time considered “kiddies food” when children ate it but also “labourer’s food” since that was the most common break time meal/snack among adult menial labourers in Nigeria back in the day.

Whatever the combination is, ‘Stella beer and bread’? I hail O!

Grimot Nane

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