Culture is a conditioning device; it shapes our food idiosyncrasies. All over the world, the different plants and animals people eat as part of their cultural foods are derived from their environment. Often times, what is considered a delicacy in one country or ethnic group is considered a taboo in another country or ethnic group. However, food considered unfit for human consumption in one community may be traded for another item which is acceptable in the community.
When I first encountered Chukwuemeka Ike’s book with the unusual title, Toads for Supper, my first thought was eww- who eats frog? Years later, when I discovered that some people in Benue State, the nation’s food basket eat frogs, all I could think was nawa oh! Truly, one man’s food is another man’s poison. As is often the case with most delicacies, no one knows the circumstances surrounding the adoption of this meat to the menu of Benuens or whether their love for frog meat is cultural or experiential. What we do know is that the frogs are caught in different places. They are dissected, roasted and bagged before sale.
In Benue State, while some consumers just love the taste of this meat, others consume it for economic reasons and for its nutritive value. Frog is said to be a good source of protein for the low income population that cannot afford other protein food sources such as chicken, turkey, beef, and sea food. The frogs are cooked in a stew with spices, tomatoes, onions and chillies. Some are fried and others are roasted. Some consumers of this delicacy also allege that frogs are tastier than fish.
One consequence of the rise in the consumption of this amphibian is the fact that the frog trade has become lucrative. In Hadejia Market in Jigawa State, for example, frog business is big business. Some of these frogs are sold fresh but others are skewered on stick and sun dried or smoked before they are sold. It is alleged that customers from North-Central and even South-Eastern Nigeria come to buy toads in bulk and transport it to Benue State and other parts of the country where the consumers are. Some traders are even actively involved in cross-border trade of this commodity.
However, another consequence of this rise in the consumption of frog meat is a decline in the population of this amphibian. Frogs are gradually becoming an endangered specie and if nothing is done about their situation, they may go into extinction.
Adamu Adamu, “Toads for Supper: How Toads have become Money Spinner in Jigawa,” Nigerian Tribune Online, https://tribuneonlineng.com/toads-supper-toads-become-money-spinner-jigawa/
Featured image source: Pulse NG