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HomeHistoryMeet Iya Oniresi, Mama Felicia Ajibabi Adesina, The Developer of Aya Mase...

Meet Iya Oniresi, Mama Felicia Ajibabi Adesina, The Developer of Aya Mase Sauce

Around Nigeria, and around the world, aya mase is well-known as that rich spicy sauce made from a blend of palm oil and green peppers, commonly paired with Ofada rice, a variety of fermented rice grown in southwest Nigeria.

But what is less known is the history behind this stew and the woman who brought about this delicacy.

Mrs. Felicia Adesina, Aya Mase, was born in 1924 in Ikenne, Remo in Ogun state, and without formal education or vocational training, she would go on to create one of the most celebrated items on menus wherever Nigerians congregate.

After marrying and beginning a family with a local farmer in Ikenne, Remo, Mrs. Adesina began to cook and sell food to supplement the family’s income.

According to her children, she started by walking around town to sell her unique stew, aya-mase. After increasing her customer base and popularity, she set up a stall in front of their home to sell from, to cater to the teeming number of people ready to pay for a taste.

With the proceeds of these humble beginnings, Aya Mase was able to send her eight children to school.

About the name ‘aya-mase’, a story told by her children is that her husband earned the nickname ‘Mase’ – translated from Yoruba as “don’t do it” – when he was involved in a “heated exchange.”

Onlookers urged him not to hit his opponent, “mase!” It stuck. His wife became Aya Mase – wife of Mase. The sauce is also known as obe Aya Mase, obe-iresi, designer stew, or obe dudu.

She built a brand she didn’t know she was building,” her granddaughter, Adenrele Adesona, says in this teaser for a documentary-to-come about her life.

Many people recall fond memories of standing in line waiting for this sauce with its unique bleached palm oil flavour, iru (locust beans), and assorted meats and boiled eggs.

Although it’s now known as ofada sauce, aya-mase is the distinct creation of Mrs. Felicia, and is made with green peppers, as opposed to ofada sauce’s red peppers. Some people refer to aya-mase as green ofada stew. Some part in Remo now eat rice and beans with aya-mase sauce.

Mrs. Felicia passed away in 2013, leaving a lineage of food sellers in her stead. Her family insists that it cannot be called aya-mase if it is not prepared by a descendant of hers, a child of Mase, omo Mase.

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From the UK to Nigeria, her children and grandchildren continue to make the special recipe learned from her side.

Whether or not they own a monopoly on the name, of the recipe, the world is grateful for this spicy goodness, and for the hardworking woman who created it.

AYA MASE, THE SPECIAL SAUCE

 

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  1. 景天科多肉植物(Crassulaceae)為多年生肉質草本,夏秋季開花,花小而繁茂,表皮有臘質粉,氣孔下陷,可减少蒸騰,是典型的旱生植物,無性繁殖力强,采葉即能種植生根。 景天科植物植株矮小,由於是肉質,耗水肥很少,囙此極易種植觀賞。 景天科植物由於其矮小抗風,又不需要大量水肥,耐污染,囙此成為比較流行的屋頂綠化的首選植物。 分佈非洲、亞洲、歐洲、美洲。 以中國西南部、非洲南部及墨西哥種類較多,大約有 34 屬 1426 種。

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