We support your japa plans 100%, but are you mentally prepared to give up nigerian foods? In this article, nine Nigerians living abroad confess how much it costs to get their favorite Nigerian meals abroad.
I moved to Alberta, Canada, 11 years ago. My older siblings thought it would be great to get a master’s degree and work my way up the system. They were right, but no one promised me how much things had changed, especially with food.
I went from eating fresh fruit literally cut from the trees of my father’s farm to eating soft canned fruits.
Fruits that weren’t canned (like mangoes) taste weird to me. I can’t explain how, but they didn’t taste as fresh as the ones I’ve had in Nigeria. I later learned that some of the fruits here are genetically modified to grow.
I’ve been in Canada for 10 years, and during dreary winters, all I crave is yam and panga soup filled with bush meat, kapomo, and dried fish. Since I left Nigeria, Chinese food has been a staple for me as it is the cheapest food option I actually enjoy.
I can’t even imagine trying to shop at African stores in Calgary. And trying to convince my brothers to ship food from Nigeria is very stressful. The ones they sent at the beginning of the year  I haven’t arrived yet, so until I go back to Nigeria, I’ll have to manage Chinese food.
Related: 9 Nigerians share their experience with foreign foods
I moved to Rwanda in 2019 to start a pepper business. It was the best decision I ever made. But the food? Not much. I went from having aunts, daughters and a sister who cook for me to knowing how to cook my own meals. The culture is completely different – the women I dated in Rwanda didn’t bother cooking the typical soup I loved. Once they gave me french fries, that was it. Nobody was stressing.
To be fair, Rwanda doesn’t have a lot of food options. I got used to it though. I finally started cooking meals for myself and the Rwandan woman I’m currently dating. I still miss having someone prepare a nice bowl of panga and starch sha.
I moved to Boston, Massachusetts five years ago to get my undergraduate degree in 2017. Amala and Iwedo from Lagos are something I really miss. I hate that I have to do this on my own when I could easily get into Boca at home. Imagine spending $10 to $20 for just Edo here. Fortunately, I still beg my mom to send me amala flour.
I moved to Dubai in 2017 for my master’s degree. The list of things I miss getting regularly from Nigeria is a lot, but one thing I can fight someone for right now is ipekere and elegede soup. Made with corn and fried in shapes like churros – Ipekere resembles akara – it stays crunchy for several days. Ijebidi is an original soup from Ondo State.
It’s not like I don’t get local food in Dubai. I tend to cook more than I eat out, but the food here is pretty pricey. Takayama for example. The last tuber I got costs like 30 or 35 dirhams. This means about 4,500 – 5,000 yen per small, skinny tuber. Even Ata Rudo (Habanero pepper) is about 10,000 yen per 2 kg. At this point, I go to the store once a month to get everything I need because even transporting to the store is another unit.
I moved to Germany for my PhD in 2018. Nothing tastes here. I have to cook a lot of things myself and even so they don’t pop. Probably because I use an electric cooker and not a gas cooker and I’m tired.
I just stopped being able to cook Nigerian staples like jollof rice because every time I tried it it was frustrating. Now, I pay someone in Berlin 60 yen to deliver jollof rice to Braunschweig which is about three hours away.
But what I miss the most is soup like oh. Getting it in Germany is not so easy.
Related: 9 Nigerian meals we love to eat but never cook
I moved to Cardiff in 2000 as a Chevening Scholar. I was married at the time and had one child, but my family could not come with me. I loved the idea of trying new foods in England, but when it came to it, nothing was as satisfying as waking up nibbling on french fries in Nigeria. The English chicken soup, mashed potatoes and nuggets were not compared. As someone who has never had to cook my own food, the transition has been difficult.
The first time my wife and son visited me, I had to beg her to bring me soup. I don’t know how I expected that to work, but I was desperate for any sort of Nigerian swallow after six months in Cardiff.
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When I was 30, I enrolled in a master’s program and moved to Scotland, where I have been living since 2008. I’m not crazy about Nigerian food, but the only thing I’m missing is the spice. Pepper soup seasoning should be at the top of my list because I still order my sisters in Nigeria to ship them to me at least once a year.
Since I moved to Alberta, Canada, four years ago, I haven’t taken pills. Finding a good powdered milk was hard for me because the liquid milk here makes me bloated. The taste is not my favorite thing either.
It is not sustainable that the powdered milk is delivered from Nigeria so I don’t bother. I hope to find something I can keep, but for now, there are no pills for me.
Read also: How to Find Nigerian Food Abroad