When Arewa youths eventually banish Igbo from the northern part of the country as they have threatened, the collateral damage in the misguided zealotry will transcend the original target. Indeed, collateral damage will encompass unintended victims, including folks of northern extraction who are driving lucrative enterprises in the South-East and South-South zones who will be targeted in counter-ethnic zealotry. An unintended victim that may be affected is ‘Buhari Salad’, a sensationally-thriving delicacy across Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. Deceptively so-called because it bears no relationship with traditional concept of salad, the periwinkle delicacy is so-called because it is affordable and has the capacity to connect patrons with the current economic reality.
Among the aborigines of the area, periwinkle pepper soup, which is what the delicacy is essentially, is not a traditional staple in the area covered by the two states. According to Mr. Udom Ekpenyong, a retired bureaucrat resident in Uyo, ‘Buhari Salad’ was popularised in the area in the mid and late 1990s when wives of federal civil servants posted there considered ways to explore and experiment with the traditional cuisines available in their new areas of residence.
“The wives of federal civil servants, including soldiers and policemen, who were posted to the area soon considered that they had enough time on their hands to explore. They experimented with periwinkle, a sea food that is readily-available in the area and extra-rich in nutrients. The response to the experiment was huge.
“As the experiment succeeded beyond imagination, other fun spots converted and soon joined the growing feast on the huge throng of patrons. In addition to beer, traditional liquor like ‘ogogoro’ and ‘burukutu’ were added to spice up the allure of these unconventional relaxation spots, including that opposite the Mobile Police Base along Idoro Road, Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, that is hugely popular because of ‘Buhari Salad’ and ‘burukutu’. The watering hole is owned by the spouse of a mobile policeman from the north,” Ekpenyong told The Next Edition.
Besides protein, which is its primary forte, periwinkle, like other sea foods, is also rich in calcium which is essential in forming strong bones, especially in children. It is also said to be rich in iodine. Another great commercial advantage is that its shells could be crushed and used as feedstock for livestock.
According to Mr. Ofonime Umoren, a dietician in Uyo, what many people take for granted is the fact that a multi-million naira business is growing out of not only periwinkle shells but also the shells of other crustaceans. “In this difficult economic period, not many people can afford the cost of regular livestock feed. If you crush periwinkle shells alongside the shells of other crustaceans or hard-backed sea foods, the result is excellent animal feed, which saves a lot of money,” he said. Every where you go in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, ‘Buhari salad’ is toast to the prevailing harsh economic conversation. An average plate of steaming hot periwinkles goes for about N100. “The essential reason the delicacy is hugely popular among patrons is that it is very affordable. Whether you are a big man or pauper, you can find accommodation in a plate of ‘Buhari salad’,” Prince Bassey Nyong, told The Next Edition. A civil servant, Evelyn Akpakpan, agrees. In between sips from her glass of orange drink and robust sucks from her plate of the popular delicacy, she said: “Initially, no one imagined that periwinkle could be sold in this manner. The concept is popular beyond imagination. It is still unimaginable that anyone could package and sell periwinkle, which is a staple food in the state. This attests to the power of this vision,” she told The Next Edition.