Why Lagosians patronise roadside food vendors

Mama Put

FOR many Lagosians, roadside foods are their lifesaver. While on the move or trapped in traffic, snacks and bottled drinks come to the rescue. For the main course, they revert to the food vendors, who, in local parlance, are popularly called “Mama Put” or Buka joint to keep body and soul together while seeking their daily bread. 

   Roadside foods or street foods are foods you can get at your fingertips. It is ready-to-eat food, snacks or drink sold in a street or other public places, such as a shop or a market, by a hawker or vendor often from a portable food booth, food cart or food truck. 

   This is different from fast food restaurants also known as Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) that is characterized  by its various local and international cuisine. Food served in fast food restaurants is usually offered from a limited menu, cooked in bulk in advance and kept hot and is usually available ready to take away, though seating may be provided.

   The city of Lagos is known for its distinctive street foods. These foods are common everywhere but that of Lagos is unique because people from all strata of the societydon’t give a damn eating by the roadside. 

   On a sunny day when traffic on the roads are hectic, one would be so tempted to put any available food item into the stomach in the bid to quench the biting hunger.      

   A Lagosian who has always patronised Buka joints, Peter Ndukwe, said people patronize them not because they can’t afford fast food restaurants, but because they love the taste of the Buka food. 

   “The cost of roadside food is averagely on the low side and suits well the pockets of an average Lagosian unlike the luxury of being treated to a fast food service. 

   “With just N100, one could buy a plate of food. With same amount, you will get filled by just eating a loaf of bread, beans and sachet water. With the same N100, it would only fetch one a bottled water at a restaurant.”

   Another Lagosian, Osaze Innocent, attributed the huge patronage of roadside food outlets to distance. He said: “In the situation where one is hungry and his place of work is far from the nearest eatery, he needs not stress himself going that far when he can satisfy his hunger with a plate of sumptous meal from a nearby Buka. 

   “Some foods that the roadside vendors sell are usually not sold in some of the fast food outlets. As a result of this, people naturally gravitate towards patronising street food vendors.”

   Another characteristic of the roadside food is that they hardly sell leftovers; their foods are served fresh, unlike some fast foods restaurant, which microwave leftovers and sell them off to customers.

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