And now to finish the shopping trip. I hope we've all had time to sit in the shade and have a snack - maybe a FanYogo or a cold Coke - and we feel ready to get back out there and bargain some more. Meat doesn't buy itself, people.
But it does come delivered, carried on a piece of cardboard by an obliging young man [always a man: women don't sell meat, they sell vegetables - but not carrots, men sell carrots . . . ah, the gendering of the marketplace . . . another post, another time]. Abigail has to bargain harder for a good price on meat than for other food items. I usually wander away so as not to taint the proceedings with my oyinbo presence. As you've probably realized, I would likely starve to death without Abigail. My diet of Cheese Balls, Coke and oatmeal would result in malnutrition and eventual brain stoppage. And then who would write a dissertation on the development of a book market and the social implications of literacy in twentieth-century southwestern Nigeria? Oh. Someone else.
I can, however, get a great price on bananas and cans of tinned milk with my mad bargaining skills.
And I like to throw my hat into the ring when it comes to fish bargaining. The fish in the picture above is waiting for a price to be agreed upon so that it can go to a good home. To be made into stew. Yum!
I love grocery shopping in Nigeria because the markets are full of tastes and smells that I've never experienced - buckets and baskets piled high with beautiful mounds of food that I've never seen. But I also enjoy taking part in what is a daily ritual for so many Nigerians, especially the women who do almost all of the shopping and cooking. I certainly don't blend in, but when I'm waiting for the fish to be chopped up or the egusi seeds to be ground, I feel like I have earned the right to be here.
[A disclaimer: grocery stores, the kind with shelves and price tags and freezers, do exist in Nigeria. I just don't go very often because they're expensive and carry the same foods as the market. Also, the local Food Co. doesn't make for very interesting pictures. But people do shop in these kind of stores. Just so you know. (But also, mostly people shop at markets like the one described above. Where else can you buy your cassava powder and stock fish?)]