THE BREAD from Virgy's Bakery

I call this, "The Bread," (capitalization intended). My mother was the first baker whom I knew to make this bread. Whereas most bakeries churned out the low-cost, flat-top, and sliced breads rampant in Nigerian, my mother (always a pioneer) went a different route to make a mark. She began baking these dome-shaped breads about forty years ago. I remember her telling her goldsmith-cum-blacksmith (who made her gold jewelry and who molded her baking containers) how she wanted the metal baking dishes to look. The Breads sold like hot cakes, practically falling off the shelf. She had many supermarket customers to whom she supplied her creations.
In years, even though these dome-shaped breads became rampant, the ones from other bakeries lacked the rich aroma of my mother's creation. You could smell the nutmeg in her breads and her other secret ingredients from miles away, which brought people on foot to our supermarkets. Her other creations fared equally well: sausages, meat pies, small cakes (now called cupcakes), wedding and special occasion cakes, chin chin, and puff puff. As children, we used to love to scrape the remnants from the cupcakes and eat any "damaged" cakes.

In addition to selling the pastries in our stores and supplying them to other supermarkets and grocers, my mother employed sales boys and asked our carpenter to build sizable wooden boxes to equip their bicycles, paint the boxes white, and write her bakery business' name, "Virgy's Bakery," in red cursive letters. It seemed funny to us that as soon as these boys left the bakery fully stocked, they returned for refills and always turned in the exact amount of money my mother expected from them.

My mother was both flattered and concerned because the demand was huge! I tried to help out as much as I could in the bakery and in the stores. Even with hired help, the demand seemed bigger than we could supply. My mother eventually let go of the bicycles when they started breaking down and focused on supplying the groceries and supermarkets. 

After she passed away, I could not look at, buy, or eat these dome-shaped breads without crying my eyes out. Basically, and as my healing process, I avoided Nigerian dishes for years.

--Frances Ohanenye maintains this site. Please direct all inquiries and request for permission to use copyrighted material to Thanks for complying with my request.


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