by Atim Annette Oton
I was born in Calabar, the capital of the once called, South Eastern State, the child and only daughter of an Ibibio man from Eket which is now in Akwa Ibom State in Southeastern Nigeria. I grew up knowing my village and my culture, my father, who helped create the state knew the importance of family and went home to Ikot Ebe Ekpo almost every two weeks
Where did I learn about food? From my parents I recall, it was first from my American mother, Heloise, who came to Nigeria and immersed herself into its culture and raised five children and gave us an undying love of Nigerian food till today that we are all self declared goodies.
Nigerian food is one of the most distinctive culinary arts of Africa, we are such a diversity of options but the best cooks and chefs come from my people, the Ibibios, ad our cousins, the Efiks, just ask any Nigerian they will say, “those Calabar people can cook”, yes, we are lumped together as one group from one town.
As an Ibibio person, I can recommend several dishes but, hands down, my favorite is Afang Soup. It is what Americans would call a vegetable stew but we Africans don’t like that adaptation or renaming of our foods. Afang is a hard tough and slightly better leaf which gives this soup its name and flavor. Igbos, our neighbors call it Okazi and they make it with a slight variation but I will remain neutral.
Afang soup is best with garri or pounded yam and not fufu. it is the vegetable combination with loads of proteins: goat, beef, fish, both dry and fresh plus snails and periwinkles. Each family cooks it slightly different but between the palm oil, water leaf, afang and proteins, the dish tends to remain intact with its unique taste and flavor; and it is best eaten with your hands, no silverware necessary. I am Ibibio child and food is always part of our family time and rituals, and I recommend Afang soup anytime too.
Here’s a recipe to follow. http://www.nigerianfoodtv.com/2013/02/how-to-cook-afang-soup.html?m=1