Lagos literally doesn’t sleep.
In fact, it’s during the night that the parties begin, the beer runs and the women get all sexy. It’s also the time when you burst out your candles or put on your generators so you won’t wither away in darkness. I won’t advise the candle though, it’s already hot enough to fry eggs on top of your cars here. Your neighbors won’t want to find your ashes instead of you the following morning.
I live in a remote village of Ikosi-Ketu. It’s part of the Kosofe Local Government. Ketu is rowdy and it contains a number of ‘razz’ people but I assure you, it’s a pretty cool place to live in. And the nights are pretty dope. Forget that you most of the time would not be able to hear yourself think over the loud generator sounds and the loud music and shouts from parties filled with hungry people who were not even invited.
It was on one of these nights that I took myself out to get suya. Suya is like this beautifully roasted meat the Hausa men make here. They coat the meat with a specially prepared spice and set it over hot coals to slowly roast till it is a dark dark brown and oozing oil.
Do remember to take a torch light with you on your night trips in this area. The very wonderful people working in the power holding company may just decide to gracefully snatch away the electricity, thus sending the entire area into pitch darkness. You may at this moment, step into a pile of rubbish that had earlier been raked out of the gutters and abandoned by the side of the road for only-God-knows-what (if this happens to you, just cut off your entire leg).
So armed with your torch light, set off for the closest suya stand. You don’t have to walk very far to find one, they happen to be almost everywhere, especially junctions. It also helps that these junctions are the same spots that calabashes of food are placed for the gods believed to watch over the roads and avoid accidents (watch out for those too… you don’t want to step into a calabash filled with boiled eggs swimming in palm oil).
When you find a suya stand, slow your pace and examine it from a little while off. If the suya is good, obviously there’ll be people standing about. If it’s not, not only would there be absolutely no-one, the ‘suya-man’ would also be giving off negative vibes. His face would be strong and unsmiling like he hates his job, wife and kids. Look at the meat too. Is it too black? Does it smell funny? Does it look good?
The suya-man must not realize you are scrutinizing him and his meat (not that meat, good Lord). So remember to switch off your torch and not point it towards his stand. They usually have lanterns, anyway. If you still doubt the quality of the suya, then walk towards it. He should see you coming. When he notices that you’re coming to him, he’ll so expertly slice through a large chunk of meat and produce a little piece. That piece would then be dipped into a bowl filled with red powder -that’s special suya pepper and tossed towards you. So take that piece quickly before some hungry passerby snatches it and taste it. It should taste like a piece of heaven… if heaven tastes like delicious unhealthy beef cooked with strange spices and hot hot pepper oozing equally unhealthy fat. If you are on a diet, I advise you to stay away from suya. Not only is it packed with calories, it is also very addictive.
So if you like what you taste (you might want to check first if it is reddish in the middle as this is a sign of rawness), tell the Hausa man how much of it you want. The least you can buy is N100. And that would give you like four pieces of actual beef and three pieces of 100% cow body fat. Let me just tell you now that this body fat is gross and should not enter into your mouth. So watch as he cuts the pieces up for you and tell him strongly to not include the fat in your serving. They like to add fat to it to give it quantity. This particular act is called corruption. To drive home that point, you should throw sand into his eyes… if you won’t mind becoming suya though.
So you can buy N300 and show him your breasts so he can add a little more just for you. When he’s done skillfully slicing the suya up into a newspaper, he’ll ask if you want onions. I know a particular suya-man that adds cabbage, cucumber and tomatoes to your serving (heart emoji). You should probably get onions with your suya, as it wakes your taste buds and intensifies the taste of the meat (meatorgasm).
When he’s done, he’ll wrap it up and drive toothpicks into the neat bundle and hand it to you. This is when you take it and pay. Or you can just snatch it from him along with a huge chunk of suya still roasting on the coals and run. You should know though that their knives can cut through your flesh as easily as they cut into suya.
Do remember to buy a bottle of cold Coca-Cola or beer to wash it down. Or you can just soak Garri. If you can get palm wine at that time, buy that instead. When you get home, lock yourself up in your room before you open it. Especially if you have a family like mine that can never allow you eat your suya in peace. Enjoy your roasted beef and cold drink in solitude and thank me later.