Friday, July 2, 2010


I'm back already!  To discuss something very important: the deliciousness of coconuts.

Actually, Diana's post on eating locally made me think about the availability of food here in Nigeria.  Many of the ingredients we buy in the market are local because, well, they have to be.  The system for distributing goods in Nigeria is shaky at best, so farmers sell their produce (vegetables, fruits, chicken, beef, etc.) close to home.  Locally-grown food is incredibly cheap: a huge bunch of greens for vegetable stew only costs 20 naira (about 13 cents).  A large bag of okra costs 50 naira (30 cents).  However, there is also a surprising amount of food imported into Ibadan.  Most of the vegetables come from the Middle Belt or northern Nigeria.  Much of the fish is frozen and flown in from abroad.  Whole stalls are dedicated to selling only canned and pre-packaged foreign goods.  Even ingredients grown in Nigeria are often processed somewhere outside of the the region.

There is little variety in the options of imported foods, but every week brings new and interesting local produce to the market.  Right now, for example, mature coconuts are in season and being hawked on every street corner.  (See how I brought this discussion back to coconuts?!  Phew.)  I love fresh coconut meat, pried out of the shell and sold in large pieces to eat as a snack with roasted corn.  In fact, if I don't reign it in a bit, I might turn into an ear of roasted corn myself.  With a side of coconut.


Sarah, my housemate, and I decided to try opening a coconut ourselves.  It provided ten solid minutes of entertainment, between throwing the shell as hard as we could at the floor and then trying to pry out the pieces with butter knives.  I am happy to report that the only lasting injury was a small cut to my ankle.

{Yes, my legs and arms are completely different colors. Kind of awesome, huh?}

Carried away by our coconut fever, Sarah and I have even started baking a mean coconut cake.  Of course, we use canned coconut milk from the supermarket and have thus far been too lazy to grate fresh coconut for the glaze.  But it is a Nigerian coconut cake in spirit.  I promise.

(recipe adapted from 'Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcakes' in the April 2009 Bon Appetit)

2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coconut milk

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

In a saucepan, heat leftover coconut milk (from 13-14 ounce can) with a spoonful of sugar, allowing liquid to reduce slightly.  Mix in 1 cup flaked/shredded coconut and pour glaze over warm cake.

{James checking out our coconut cake via Skype.  Mmmmmm.}

I have just one more week to eat locally in Nigeria - wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Regan! I tried posting a comment on Friday when I was at school, but the network wouldn't connect to any google related sites. Isn't that weird? Anyway, I just wanted to say that this post made me really hungry for coconuts and also that I burst out laughing when I read about the steps you had to take to open the fruit. I think I may have disturbed much more studious dissertation writers in the process. Nice heart-shaped cake, by the way. :)