The other day, a case was being made against the infamous eba.

It was labourers’ food, said three beans-eaters arranged around a hungry man. It had none of the sophistication of moin-moin, for instance. A ten-year-old could make it – dump gari in hot water and it was done! Plus it was tasteless and bland, relying squarely on the soup of the day for any flavour at all. Hungry Man put water on the fire to boil. The beans-eaters continued to declaim: gari was potentially poisonous, they said – it was made from cassava, a source of cyanide. Poorly processed gari caused everything from goiter to ataxia. And for what? The food was so sour and tasteless it was swallowed without chewing! Worst of all, gari – and distant cousins, akpu and pounded yam – were responsible for the six or seven million premature potbellies on young, otherwise marriageable men in Nigeria alone! (Such was its weight profile, its starch content, its fibre load that it sat in their poor stomachs, distending the muscles of those flaccid organs until marriage-threatening paunches resulted.) Emotions heated up around Hungry Man as the water began to boil. The gari of the day was yellow, fried with a little palm oil. It was Agbor-bought, from a family that fried gari for a living. The yellow meal sat in a yellow bag. The water boiled feverishly. Hungry Man sprinkled handfuls of the powder into the pot until its water was soaked up and eba, also known as utara, was born. Then, with a ladle he stirred the mixture over a slow fire until the starch in the dough was angry and stiff, snatching at the pot, at the ladle. Eba was cheap, the beans-eaters said derisively as he spooned it onto a plate, it was the prostitute of Nigerian cuisine. The doughy lump sat there, a woman who felt no need for make-up. Effete restaurants loved to make neat spherical balls of their eba, to justify their stiff prices. What sat before Hungry man was an honest slab of food. Ugly, if truth be told. A spoon of egusi soup joined the eba. And another. Eba steamed lazily. It was not even nutritious, said the beans-eaters, somewhat desperately, one percent protein! Nought percent fat! Nought percent vitaminโ€ฆ

Hungry Man ate.

6 Replies to “Gari on Trial”

  1. Joseph Eluzai says:

    A Nigerian cuisine with a prostitute. Sounds familiar until you find the strange in the familiar.

  2. Chy says:

    Aluta agbogho achupu agadi. Garri does not deserve such slander. Just eat in moderation. It’s like slandering vaseline. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Yvonne says:

    Back in secondary school I never liked gari… It’s interesting that I developed the love for gari during my university days. I loved it with milk, roasted groundnut, sugar and water to make gari soakings…
    Loved it!!


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