By Bamidele Johnson
I have been to many places, including well-appointed ones by buka standards, to eat amala and in most, the gbegiri-ewedu combo is just manageable. In a few, it’s stunning. But as important as the soup is the amala itself. I can count on the fingers of one hand where I’ve eaten premium-grade amala concurrently with prime abula.
Not one is in Lagos where what is routinely bought by amala vendors as elubo (the flour) is an absolute sham; better than livestock feed only because of soup. In Ilorin and Ibadan, I’ve had A-1 class amala. It’s pricier.
During my last outing in Ibadan, I polished off seven at N700. In Lagos, I’d have spent N300 on bigger wraps and I’d have been fine. But you have to know the real one to know that what you’re eating with the devilishly inviting ponmo and cow leg-infested soup is made of chaff or something like that.
There’s a price to pay for top-tier amala and it’s not just in cash. In most of the places you find it along with mean abula, the dispensers are usually rude, snapping at you if you dither on the quantity to buy. The places are usually oven-hot enclosures where, abetted by the hot amala, you’d be sweating like a cornered paedophile.
E never finish. You’d have to deal with the interest of flies and pray that your eyes don’t roam towards where the container for hand washing sits. It’s an appetite killer with its unsightly, viscous oil film and soap water combo. The poor sanitary habits and insults are tolerated because of the bigger picture. People tend to be wreathed with smiles, an indication of satisfaction when coming out of a passable imitation of a pigsty.
In 9 out of 10 of the fancy places I’ve been, what I had was fake Amala with often great ewedu and gbegiri. The FCCPC needs to intervene.