Ewa Agoyin and Agege bread, ‘a home-grown African Breakfast.’ Nothing beats its unique taste and the feeling that comes with its combination. It’s a beautiful diet. No campaign against Agege bread can stand the test of time because it has become a unique part of people’s lives.
Due to its ‘Africanness,’ and affiliation to people’s lives, it has become a significant recipe in people’s diets. It’s almost impossible to separate most people from ewa agoyin and Agege bread.
The truth about ewa agoyin and Agege bread is that this pair is only found in Lagos; not Abuja, Portharcourt, Owerri or any other part of Nigeria you can think of. It is only found in Lagos Nigeria. Though it is believed that ewa agoyin and agege bread originated from the Benin Republic, as long as Nigeria is concerned, you have to come down to Lagos to have a good feel of it.
Though there are some really great Nigerian restaurants and local fast food joints in several parts of the state that make efforts to sell ewa agoyin, however their attempt at serving the sacred recipe gives this mid-80s feel about a great advert that graced our scenes then. Long before cell phones and the internet, the television was king and the blue hox held us all enthralled. From local dramas to great commercials that did a great job with Rhythmic songs, fantastic hooks and copies that told the story of the various brands with precision. In this particular commercial two actors were used from the sweet nostalgic comedy drama series “MASQUERADE”.
These were the late Christy Essien Igbokwe who played Apena the wife of Jegede Shokoya the youngest millionaire and the late Lizzy Ovueme who played Missisim Ovuleria Nwogbo, the wife of Chief Zeburudaya Nwogbo alias 4:30.
Ovuleria visits Apena and Apena complains of headache. Ovuleria advises she takes an analgesic and she retorts she has taken it, and proceeds to ask the great hook of a question that elicits the super copy of the generation. She says “I don take am. No be white tablet?” To which Missisim Ovuleria replies “if eno be panadol eno fit be panadol”.
Till date, one still wonders who wrote such amazing lines for the brand because that line has become more of a cliché and even transcended to being iconic. We use it in comparison between fakes and originals.
So, connecting this scenario to Ewa Agoyin, it’s simply beans but not so simple beans served with a unique palm oil pepper sauce. There is a specific specie of beans used for it. It’s cooked for hours in our local iron cast rotund sometimes three-legged pot over firewood. Not the modern pressure pot on gas.
Funny enough, most people believe that food cooked over firewood and charcoal tastes better. The simple reason is, these methods take a longer time to deliver the goods. However, nothing beats a dish with all the aromas and spices “networking” properly in the pot. The smoke factor adds a heavenly mix of cooking and roasting of ingredients after taste to every meal. In fact, right now “Smoky Jollof rice ” is huge and a thing now as they say.
So Ewa agoyin is cooked this way and sold directly from the pot it was cooked in. Not emptied into turns and served across the counter over a show glass or food display panel.
How about the women that sell Ewa agoyin, the Agoyin women are known for their culinary prowess. They understand the African tastebuds and over decades have perfected the art of large-scale tasty meals. Successful parties have Agoyin women to thank. They are the bedrock of big-time caterers. Ewa agoyin actually belongs to them and as much as we have tried we still can’t make it like them.
The Agoyin women balance the pots on their heads wearing very convenient clothing, mostly a t-shirt and Ankara loincloth to sell. Before now they hawked alone but these days there is a very beneficial collaboration between “Oni bredi” the Agege bread seller and “Ole Ewa.” So you most probably would see two ladies hawking together. How very convenient. Great business model and they didn’t need to go to Harvard for it.
How about the sauce served alongside the Ewa? It takes it to another level. For those who say they avoid oil, it’s not rampant that anyone complains about “Ole Ewa’s” peppered oil sauce. That sauce is another secret they have also not shared with Nigerians. The eatries here “dem don try taya ‘but if eno be panadol eno fit be like panadol.’
The Agoyin women carrying the pot they used in cooking the Ewa on their heads religiously every day still remain the best custodians of this delicacy. The serving-to-sell process is so interesting. They scoop the beans paste because it’s been cooked overnight and turned in the morning to give it that consistency. So, she scoops onto the plate and makes a ridge in between the paste. She repeats the process to your desired quantity and garnishes it with the palm oil secret pepper sauce. This can make one salivate.
Uri Ngozichukwuka 2023