Mama Michael is a food vendor and owns a Buka around my office area. She sells boiled rice, beans, fried plantain, kpomo, fish, fried meat, Amala, ewedu and stew to go with any combo. Sometimes she also sells moi-moi wrapped in leaves, which is adjudged to be the best.
She sells her food on a busy street in Ikeja, the capital city of Lagos state.
Her spot has two rooms divided along food lines. One side is for rice and beans and the other is for Amala and its accompaniments.
“Aunty, your food dey here” she says as she serves my cousin who sits very comfortably on one of the plastic chairs in the room. She orders for a bottle of water, while stealing a glance at my rather disgusted face before asking why I am not eating. “How can I eat here?” I asked her. I was used to eating in fancy restaurants and couldn’t bring myself to eating at Mama Michael’s buka. I look at the environment, the plastic spoons, the flies and I conclude that I would never eat at any roadside joint in Lagos.
However, here is the plot twist: I am currently her number one customer. How did we get here? After spending huge amount of money in fancy restaurants for some weeks, I decided to try Mama Michael’s food, I watch as she scoops the boiled rice from a large basin into plates for people as I stand patiently in the queue. There is always a queue! I quickly take the food back to my office after being served and settle down to consume it.
Mama Michael’s food is so nice that when I get home from work, I sit on my bed and start dreaming of the next working day so I could have a taste of the food again. This is how I have become a Buka Junkie.
The street buka offers ready-to-eat food sold on a street and other public places including markets. It is sold in a food booth, food truck or even a food cart and best to consume immediately. These roadside foods are lifesavers for many Nigerians most especially Lagosians who easily get trapped in the traffic and the roadside snacks sold by hawkers come to the rescue. For the main meal, they move to “Mama put” or Buka to keep them moving for the day while still hustling.
People often ask, why do Nigerians love roadside foods and snacks?
– Cost Effective – in comparison to the restaurants, buka joints are less expensive and cost effective. In a full-service restaurant, you have to pay at least 1,000 naira to get some food while you can get a reasonable amount of food in the joint for 300 naira.
– There is no preferential treatment at food joints, unlike some restaurants where some rich people are usually given special treatment. In buka joints, the rich, middle class or poor are being served as long as you have the money. Have you ever been to a busy Buka where you see different types of flamboyant cars?
– “The taste is the difference, the difference is in the taste” you can use this slogan for buka. Buka foods have inviting and addictive tastes and flavour that you can’t ignore. Most Nigerians don’t even care about the environment because the aroma can be very tempting.
–The buka joint opens very early in the morning which is something Nigerians look forward to before going for work. Most restaurants open around 10a.m. giving the buka joints an advantage over them.
READ ALSO: THE NIGHT FOOD BUSINESS OF LAGOS
Let’s read what some Nigerians have to say about why they patronize them.
“They serve hot and fresh food like pounded yam which a restaurant do not serve. I love the originality of the foods served at these buka joints, they dont sell leftover foods so I will rather eat there.” – Oluwatosin, Student
“Mama put is my number go-to place when I’m too tired to cook because they have affordable meals. The aroma of the food is so mouth-watering and with just 500 naira or less you can eat a good meal.” – Lilian, Civil Servant.
“Living in Lagos and working can be a struggle because when I am back from work after a long evening on the road due to traffic, I don’t get to cook so I eat from Buka joints. It is very affordable.” – Femi, Banker.
“Due to the state of our economy, it’s only wise to eat according to your pocket. I patronise them because they’re affordable. Most times they even make more palatable dishes than the big restaurants. Even though I do not like the environment, I buy my food and head to the office to eat instead of getting a seat there.” – Chinonso, Engineer.
“There is a nice buka joint close to my office, when I am hungry, I don’t need to stress too much as I just go there to eat instead of going all the way to a fancy restaurant.” – Moses. A – Lawyer.
“I love the aroma from the Calabar woman’s buka down my street. It’s affordable and with 300 naira, I can get a good meal to eat. I know people complain of the hygiene of these places but these days most joints keep their environments very neat and clean.” – Efe – Fashion designer.
“I don’t really know why I love mama-put joints, to be honest, I have the money to afford the foods at restaurants but these local places make very addictive foods. Once you go there, you keep going back for more.” – Charles – Business man.
Are you a lover of food joints or you prefer the restaurant foods? Please share your experiences with us in the comment section below.