Food serves as a window for viewing culture; it is an ethnic marker. The study of food and food practices can help us in understanding people. This is not just because all humans eat, but because they all make conscious choices about food within a cultural milieu. These choices not only reveal who they are and where they fit in socially, it also reveals their religious, and philosophical bend.
Enugu, which literally means the top of a hill, is a state with rolling hills and valleys. It is also known as the Coal City State. Ndi Enugu are friendly and hospitable. They are also blessed with a number of delicious, nutritious local delicacies. What is more, Enugu palm wine is an absolute delight.
Up for discussion on our food history segment today is achicha ede. It is a cocoyam porridge that hails from Enugu State. It is prepared with dried cocoyam flakes. When soaked in water, achicha has this tendency to swell. In Nsukka area and other parts of Igboland where this delicacy is enjoyed, cocoyam is planted in rainy season. It is usually harvested during harmattan season. Afterwards, it is cooked and either sun dried or smoke dried. The weather at this time is perfect so it quickly dries the boiled cocoyam.
Achicha ede can be prepared and enjoyed on its own but it can also be prepared and relished with either pigeon pea or white yam. Pigeon pea is locally known as agbugbu in Enugu State and fiofio in Anambra State. The ingredients for making achicha ede are shredded oil beans which is known locally as ukpaka, crayfish, onions, pepper, palm oil, and salt. Stock cubes and scent leaves are optional additions to this food.
I consider Nsukka the home of achicha ede and I’ll tell you why. My maternal grandparents lived in Nsukka till I finished primary school. My grandmother was a primary school teacher while my grandfather was an agric inspector. My grandmother had a farm where she planted cocoyam, vegetables and a few other foodstuffs. She was our regular supplier of achicha ede until she and my grandfather retired and moved to Aguleri, our hometown. From that time, achicha ede moved from being a staple in our home to a rare treat. It seemed providential that years later, my love affair with achicha ede would resume at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. My supplier this time was a vendor who prepared and sold delicious achicha ede in front of Aja Nwachukwu hostel. It also seemed fortunate that I became close to an aunt on my paternal side in Nsukka. She was a university staff and had lived in Nsukka for donkey’s years. Like my grandmother, she owned her own farm and also prepared achicha from the scratch. I got firsthand knowledge of the process from her. So, you see why I consider Nsukka the home of this delicacy?
 Ken Albala, Food: A Cultural Culinary History (Virginia: The Great Courses, 2013)
Albala, Food: A Cultural Culinary History.