Thursday, December 04, 2008

The one about Amala

I went to have lunch with three colleagues recently. We left the office (forfeiting our free but rarely tasty company lunch) and headed to a place that I can only afford when they just pay salaries. ( Abeg, I can’t be eating N1300 a plate rice with palm stew everyday- it will easily lead to my own personal financial recession).

While in the car, someone else suggested that we go and eat amala instead. Me, I was willing to roll in whatever direction and I told them so. That was how we went past our airconditioned eating place and headed for the amala joint. On getting there, I discovered that the place was part mechanic workshop and that the wooden shack that was in the middle of the compound was the eating joint. When we went in, the place was FULL. One of my colleagues literally had to stand around and wait until someone was done before he sat down. Another one copped a seat on a table next to ours. In fact, we later discovered that some people were eating outside with the sky for a roof. How is that for good business?

There were several workers (including several children aged from about 7-11 who busied themselves cleaning tables, fetching water and other junior < forgive the pun> staff duties) and in a few minutes our order was taken and steaming hot plates of dark amala placed in front of us. Next came the soup: I never slack- I always have gbegiri, ewedu and stew a.k.a Abula. The pepper was just right. The consistency of the gbegiri was not watery and not too thick. Then they brought a final plate: The meat. Different cuts of goat meat and innards lay waiting to be devoured. My colleague was so moved that he actually gave his heartfelt thanks to the girl that brought the plate of meat.

We washed our hands and faced our meals. All talking ceased as we spent the first few minutes doing justice to the meal. This meal was much better than the one that my work provided. I am the sort of person that likes to eat meat after my meal (yeah, my mother brainwashed me to within half an inch of my life). By the time I reached for my first piece of “ogufe” (goat meat) the plate was only half full - my colleagues having had a head start. The meat could not have been more perfect if someone had stuck a thermometer in it to gauge that it was rightly done.

Before I forget, we were not the only ones that wanted a go at the food. We also had our friendly neighborhood flies. There was an abundance of these. We were eating with one hand and swatting flies with the other. However, the presence of the flies seemed not to perturb anyone. Outside, one could easily see the women pounding and turning large amounts of amala. Their faces dripping with sweat which took off on a race from their faces to the valley between their breasts. Sometimes, due to the force of the pounding a few drops would fall into the mortar and quickly become one with the dark amala.
Extra flavouring.

When we were done eating, a girl came to calculate the bill. No fancy receipt, the girl just stood there down and in a sing song voice recited everything we had eaten: “Amala meta thirty, thirty nera pelu plate merin….” By the time she was done, our bill came to about N1,500 for all four of us. All I could think was: "with all that meat?" The last time we went to the other place for a quick lunch we paid about 6,000 for all of us.

Now questions arising:

At these prices, do they actually make a profit?
Are the other eateries overpriced? I recognise that the Amala place has far lower overhead costs.

My colleagues are serious ajebutters but did not seem to mind the squalid conditions at all. I lay no claim to being an Ajebutter but seeing one fly in my car is an issue but here I was playfully wrestling them for rights to my meal and I did not pull the customer is king, what the heck is a fly doing here? stunt. What makes one so tolerant of these places?

And yeah...the food was oh! so good!


  1. eeewwww @ extra flavoring... LOL

    good you enjoyed your amala... I'm sure they make a profit but not so much as compared to other places... as u stated... lower overhead costs... who knows how much the junior staff get paid if at all... they might just be helping out their mom/aunt/grandma... and I think at these places... it's eat at your own risk... as opposed to the other high end places that have some culpability if you get sick...

    Merry Christmas chica...

  2. Really enjoyed reading your post, lol. If one had to dwell on the 'extra flavouring', 'might lose one's appetite for the amala.

  3. I have seen "big" men have this escapade during lunch...they will just ignore the company lunch and go to the mama put in one obscure place and eat heavily at a cheap price. I managed to ask why. They said it's because the quality of food is better (it has the home-made taste) and they prefer the difference.

  4. hmmm... sounds delish
    I am sure they are making a good profit with all the ``junior staff´´ they have around and people eating under the sky lol

  5. lol..nice i want SOME amala and gbegiri...

    me i dont think any food joint makes a loss if not they would have closed shop since, no?

  6. Hmmm m so hungry after reading this post...damn more than 2 hrs to go before lunch time!!

  7. can you tell me the name of the joint and the address
    seems i am hungry

    to be serious would you like to take part in a review website of eateries banks and whatnot
    i would be glad if you would oblige me and contribute this article to the website
    mail me at

  8. youd be surprised how much money those folks make, i know rumour has it that that very famous amala join in surulere is owned by a woman who owns at leats 4 houses and drives a range, i dont know how true it is however i do know dat they make crazy profit, cos the ppl really do crave for that food and they almost always seel out. damn im craving for some right now!!!

  9. Yeah, its the crowd and low overhead costs. There's one of such places at Ebutte Metta, she opens for abt 2.30pm and closes for 4pm. people stand to eat.
    Me, I be typical 'calabar' gal so i dnt dig them but |Igwe loves them and many attimes, I am forced to follow him.

  10. Abeg my sister....please give me the address of this joint...................

  11. @ Diamond: Ewww ke? Ajebutter, lol. In fact, I saw a baby there and felt in my heart that in a few years she would be serving drinks and cleaning tables.

    Merry Christmas to you too!

    @ Naijalines: Abi?

    @ Nwa Chi: Lovely name. That is so true. The fastfood places totally miss out on delivering on taste.

    @ Joicee: I figure....

    @ Aloted: I will fedex some to you. Send an address.

    @ ShonaVixen: LOL!!

    @ Tisha: I would be delighted. I actually was thinking about doing something like that: reviewing bukas and giving my views on companies in Nigeria. Will email you soon.

    @ 36: Do you mean Olaiya? If so, I have contributed heavily towards that Range Rover and the houses. I really should find one of those places and fund them. My ROI will be amazing regardless of recession.

    @ For The LOve: That sounds crazy. I don't know that one o! The one I know at Ebute Metta is "Eyinfalemo" or something along those lines. Please give me directions to this one. Let us see what is so good about the food. Not that I will stand, I will buy 'takeaway"

    @ Adunni: You are back? Long time!!! Just let me know where you are,I will give you the address to the closest one (yep, I have Lagos pretty much covered).

  12. haha. reminds me of amala shitta in surulere. sweat pouring in from armpit-scratching and crotch-digging cooks who would use the same hands to scoop the stray amala near the edge of the pot.

    there is a high cost to the overheads of the air-conditioned place.

  13. If the food was as good as it sounds in this post, I may not have minded the flies either...LOLLLL...

    Geez, I want AMALA...

  14. Ah Jinta whyyyy? You just killed the vision of amala and gbegiri i had in my head courtesy of in my head ;)

    So when are wo going back to this joint?

  15. Ok what I want to know is where the place is so I can go there! :-D


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