I go by the rule that you’ll get the best food by trying the local specialities so I took advice from my lovely co-worker who suggested a Nigerian "swallow".
Last night, then, I studied the menu carefully and noted interesting entries including:
Cow leg soup
Cow tail soup
Full Croaker fish
Under Nigerian swallows I could choose from Eba, Amala, Semovita, Samolina, Pando, Tuwo Shinfa and Plantain Flour.
I asked for advice from my shy hotel waiter who became effusive when I asked him to tell me what was what. Eba was cassava, which (given that it is a base for wallpaper paste) isn’t a favourite of mine. Amala sounded more benign as he said it was sweet potato so I ordered that.
‘What protein would you like, madam? Chicken? Goat?’
‘No protein, thanks.’
‘Not even fish?’
He returned a few minutes later to report that there was no amala but perhaps I would take pando as this was also made from yam. I accepted the change and he reported the food would take about 25 minutes to prepare. This was good news! Fresh cooked food!
After barely 20 minutes, the waiter brought a large container containing half a bucketful of warm water and placed it on the floor on the right side of my chair; I assumed this was the finger bowl and took this to imply that I should use my right hand to eat and that elegance wasn’t expected.
The food arrived and comprised a large ball of dough wrapped in cling-film and a bowl of tasty looking green-leaf stew. This ‘vegetable soup’ that I had ordered was rich, spicy and full of bones of uncertain species – certainly not mammalian or avian. Fish probably.
It tasted surprisingly good.
Later I discovered that the origin of the term "swallow" was all about gulping your food down quickly, without chewing. That is the local style.