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My Pursuit of a Hot Palm oil Akara Seller


I love akara. Palm oil akara. Some call it Akara Ele­po. Akara in itself is quite exquis­ite. But the fla­vor that comes from fry­ing it in smoky palm oil just adds a whole oth­er dimen­sion to the dish. Grow­ing up, akara was a Sat­ur­day morn­ing rit­u­al — as it was in many Niger­ian house­holds. But being the finicky akara mon­ster that I was, I had to have mine fried spe­cial­ly in palm oil. So I’d scoop some of the bean paste out before it got fried in veg­etable oil for the rest of the house­hold and fix myself a spe­cial palm oil treat. *sigh* Only one thing in this world takes palm oil akara up a notch, and that’s fry­ing it like the ones sold by those street hawk­ers.

No mat­ter how hard I try, I can nev­er repli­cate it- the smok­i­ness and the crunch­i­ness of the crust. So I’m quite con­tent with buy­ing from the hawk­ers. The only prob­lem is you don’t come across these hawk­ers very often. I don’t know what it is, but they just seem to move like ghosts. Find­ing one used to be a kin­da trea­sure hunt, grow­ing up. Like the one time I spot­ted one such hawk­er in my Uni years.


Palm oil akara has a dis­tinct savor it gives off when its fry­ing over a fire­wood fire, and over the years, my nose has trained itself to rec­og­nize it even if it’s just a fleet­ing whiff in the air. They had this house on the adja­cent street from mine where they used to fry it and set out from. I know this because I used to jog some morn­ings. And every time I went past this house, I would stop to take in that unmis­tak­able savor. Try as I could though, I could nev­er time myself accu­rate­ly enough to hap­pen upon any of them com­ing out with their fare. Until…

It’s a Wednes­day morn­ing. One of those mid­week morn­ings when you don’t have class­es and it feels like you’re King Under The Moun­tain. So there’s me, jay­walk­ing on the streets of Okoko going to get some­thing to eat from a near­by Mama­Put (my love for Mama­Put food is top­ic for anoth­er dis­cus­sion) when I spot her. Spot IT, actu­al­ly. The box of akara bal­anced ever-so-grace­ful­ly on the seller’s head. The gold­en-red balls dis­played in all their red, gold­en glo­ry. It’s like a dream, a vision of of of.… Heav­en. Me being the shy, self-con­scious duck­ling that I am, I’m not about to start yelling “eis! Alakara!” All over the streets of Okoko just cos I want to buy palm oil akara.

No sir. I’m gonna walk, like a civ­il lady, up to her and make my pur­chase. And I ain’t gonna be seen chas­ing her down either. I’m too tush for that. My plan is to “acci­den­tal­ly” notice her sell­ing the akara as I walk past and then make an “innocu­ous” pur­chase as a sort of after­thought. Thing is, she has oth­er plans for her­self which don’t fit into my grand scheme of things, so before I get to her spot, she takes off. God. Wich kain tin be this? But mama didn’t raise no quit­ter, so I make up my mind to fol­low her around (read “stalk her”) until she stops again long enough for me to exe­cute my fiendish­ly-bril­liant plan. So here we are. Play­ing Pac­man on the streets of Okoko on a Wednes­day morn­ing. She stops to sell. Before I reach her spot, she packs up and takes off.


And the chase begins all over again. At some point, i’m con­sid­er­ing just damn­ing it all to hell and yelling “Alakara! Alakara!!” whilst run­ning after her. At this point, dig­ni­ty, self-worth, self-con­scious­ness, tush­ness, are all just Greek let­ters to me. All that mat­ters for my sur­vival is get­ting that akara. Who knows when I’m gonna spot a hawk­er again. IF I’m gonna spot one ever again. So I’m has­ten­ing my steps, my heart is fib­ril­lat­ing, I’m hop­ing to God that she doesn’t turn anoth­er cor­ner and dis­ap­pear from my life for good. And then.. And then, I catch up to her. Final­ly. She stops again to make small talk with some oth­er woman.

I give myself one final spur on, still try­ing to look as lady­like as I can and FINALLY catch up to her to cop me some palm oil akara. But not before I deliv­er my well-rehearsed, Oscars-wor­thy, oh-I-didn’t-even-notice-you-there-selling-akara-how-much-is-it-gan-sef-ehnehn-hmmm-ok-let-me-just-try-some per­for­mance. Vic­to­ry. I head back to my room. It takes every ounce of self-con­trol I can muster, not to steal a con­grat­u­la­to­ry bite before I get back. An eter­ni­ty seems to pass until I’m safe in the pri­va­cy of my room. Then all the airs of sophis­ti­ca­tion dis­ap­pear and I devour my N50 prize with no shame or care for any­thing in the world.

Aaaaaah! Sweet vic­to­ry!!

- A true life account by Ari­no­la Adesina

Hun­gry? Go to to order for deliv­ery.

#WeDe­liv­er #freshN­hot in Abu­ja

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