Unspoken Nigerian Food Rules That We Do Not Understand

If you have ever been slapped by your neighbor for eating with your left hand, then you know what I mean. Nigeria is a nation with a lot of unofficial rules and regulations. Many of these rules are just plain funny at face value so we decided to uncover the reasons behind them. In no particular order, here are some of the most unbelievable unofficial Nigerian food rules.

  1. Rice should always be eaten on Sundays

food rules

Source – bazestudentproject.com

I have no idea how this came to be, but rice is the official Sunday dish. Most Nigerians would find it weird if you offered them a plate of beans or yam on a Sunday afternoon. I have tried to find out why it is so, but no one seems to know. As a huge fan of the rice and stew dish, I have no problem with this rule. But it would be nice to know when it started and who the originator of this tasty trend was.

  1. Women are inclined to hate beans

 food rules

This is one trend that gives me sleepless nights; I still do not understand why people can hate a dish packed with so much nutrients. Beans is a dish created in the paradise of heaven especially when eaten with plantain. In addition to its delicious taste, beans is packed with protein which is good for development of the body. If you are one of those girls who hates beans; you definitely do not know what you are missing.

  1. Your party is not complete without Jollof

It is a well-known fact that no party is complete without the sweet tasting Nigerian Jollof rice. You might as well save yourself the stress of inviting people if you are not going to satisfy their Jollof urges. You can serve pounded yam, semovita with any shade of egusi soup, but your party is not complete without Jollof. It might not be the most fascinating dish, but it is a dish favored by all; young and old. If you are planning to offendNigerians, just plan a party and deliberately leave out Jollof from the menu.

  1. Never eat with your left hand

food rules

Source – ifthebagfits.wordpress.com

Do not eat with your left hand, do not give anyone anything with your left hand, do not collect anything with your left hand, and do not do anything with your left hand in life. Nigerians, specifically the older generations believe the left hand shows disrespect and lack of manners, therefore it should only be used for minor acts like picking up objects and wiping bum. The Igbos call the right hand aka nri (literally meaning food hand); so they find it odd when someone uses the left hand to eat.

  1. You must not give only one piece of meat to an older person

food rules

Source – sisijemima.com

In a previous article, I talked about Nigerians’ love for meat. Consequently, an older person would find it disrespectful to serve him/her food with just a piece of meat. If there is one piece left get a knife divide it into two, soak it in the stew and serve it as two pieces. It is generally a Nigerian thing, irrespective of the cultural background.

  1. Never serve an older person the head of a fish

food rules

Source – baffblog.com

My little cousin once served my dad the head of fish, as the head of the house. I will never forget the stare she got from everyone in the sitting room that day.  No matter how tasty it looks, never serve an older person the head of fish. It might go back to the same meat theory, since the head does not contain much flesh, they would rather have a part of the fish that they can actually enjoy.

  1. If an older person does not drink alcohol, malt is the next best thing

food rules

Source – northoflagos.wordpress.com

You will never know insult till you serve an older person with Coke or Fanta, no matter how chilled it is. If he/she does not drink alcoholic beverages, malt is the next option. In my opinion, they see soft drinks as cheap drinks and would rather have something that costs a little more. Therefore, fruit juices and non-alcoholic wines are even preferred where available.

  1. When you are done eating you must thank all the older people present

food rules

Source – blackpressusa.com

Whether or not they provided the food, they should be thanked. If you live in your own house and you prepare lunch for your elderly guest, you must thank him/her for the food after you eat yours. It is quite an interesting part of tradition.

  1. How dare you serve older people rice and stew in the same dish?

food rules

Are you suffering from a chronic loss of home training? You mean you poured the stew on the rice? Poured the soup beside the fufu? Like most of the rules involving older people, it all boils down to respect. They believe the food looks more respectful and presentable when dished in two separate plates.

  1. If a younger person thanks you for anything you must not accept all the glory

food rules

Source – rollingout.com

You must give God His share of that glory. The appropriate response to thank you is not ‘you are welcome’, it is ‘thank God!’ It is a general thing, because I have seen it happen in different homes. Nigeria is a very religious country, therefore we believe everything we have was given it us by God. In this light, he deserves our gratitude for providing the meal.

Which of these rules have you noticed and which have you defaulted on? What were the consequences of your actions? Share your experiences with us on our comment section below or on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Don’t forget to hashtag #TVPAdventures.

Chisom Nwobu

Chisom is a recently reformed lazy writer, hopeless romantic, an amazing cook, almost semipro Ping-Pong player, the ultimate foodie and one whose sense of humor is second to none. He is extremely optimistic and sees the funny side in everything; even the saddest events. When not writing, Chisom is eating, reading or sleeping. Mostly sleeping. He is also an amazing cook.

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1 Response

  1. Afrolems says:

    This was hilarious. The do not eat with your left hand one always baffled me.

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