My quest for outré culinary excellence certainly did not begin with the standard fare dished up to us hapless fucking sheep strapped into our seats on the Nigerian airbus, Lagos to Kano. The set dinner—which I refused with anger—looked a shrink-wrapped nightmare: an ocean of pus-like powdered egg swirling around volcanic lumps of cloacal yam, the whole blasted seascape straddled by two huge mahogany turds—presumably frankfurters—lying helplessly across the cheap plastic tray like stranded zeppelins. Fuck that. I would have none of it. Instead, following the faxed advice of my guide and mentor Jonathan Briggs, I whispered to the hostess a request for “total bush meat,” otherwise known to insiders as “home-fired.”

For those who know, most West African airlines run parallel meal offerings to their passengers: on the one hand, they give out salmonella-ridden plastic TV dinners from slave factories near Heathrow; on the other, you can get authentic and nutritious local African meals, secreted illegally on to aircraft by wily cabin staff in coded rubbish bins and disguised latrine buckets. My hostess Beatrice, a buxom negress with a tribally scarred face and buttocks inflated to bursting point, showed no signs of having heard my appeal, even when I grabbed her uniformed arm a second time and pleaded with her; but then suddenly, sometime later, under the guise of handing me a complimentary jackfruit, she deftly deposited between my legs a warm, melon-sized package tightly wrapped in recycled aluminium foil. I nodded in gratitude, but her blemished face was expressionless, and I quickly understood that discretion was to be the order of the day.

No two home-fired packages—or “bush puddings” as they are known—are ever quite the same, and they are every bit as interesting to examine as they are to eat. I discerned in mine at least four types of root vegetable, a delicious maize and pepper porridge, and as many as three types of succulent barbecued meat: the highly sought after “bush meat” of tabloid yore. West African puddings are renowned for their tastiness, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Ghanaian versions, for instance, characteristically come with a “thank you” titbit: an extra special chunk of meat to delight and amuse even the most jaded of palates, such as a deep fried bat’s head, or a section of a stork’s leg in a breadcrumb batter, or the eye of a wildcat—wrapped in cucumber and as deliciously crunchy as a pickled onion—or, as in my case, a baby monkey’s arm, crisply barbecued, with its little paw still pathetically clutching some dry-roasted peanuts. And it was rumoured—to great excitement—that, during Bokassa’s reign, contraband puddings on Air France flights about the Central African Republic were graced with “thank you’s” of real human flesh, so that that little morsel of charred jerky nestling on your lap might well be a traitor’s forefinger in white wine, or part of his face rolled in mustard seeds, or his gonads au gratin—not to everyone’s taste, obviously—but the entire situation has to be understood in the context of the period: the whole region was in turmoil, and normal UN food aid deliveries were simply not getting through. Africa had, once again, totally been forgotten by the colonial powers which had so mercilessly exploited it for centuries.

My quest for the ultimate in food began decades ago when, as the food critic for one of the London broadsheets, I found myself gravitating towards that select group of gourmets who not only sought out the finest, but were prepared to sacrifice for it. Travel to the furthest reaches of the world, at enormous expense, is no problem for us doughty guzzlers; in fact, we see it as a mark of pride.

Briggsy was, as arranged, waiting for me in the noisy airport lounge. As Professor Dr. Jonathan Briggs, he is probably the foremost academic authority in the world on West African diet and nutrition, and has made a special study of what has been come to known as the “cuisine intense” of the Boh Kwaane (pron. bow kwarn) tribes of the northern Nigerian borderlands. A Manchunian, he is in his late fifties: tall, scholarly, balding, and as befits someone who has devoted his life to academe, somewhat neglectful of his appearance. I found him in a pair of threadbare grey flannel shorts, sandals made out of car tyres, and a cheap Thai T-shirt which read, enigmatically, “Same Old Shit” on the front and “Fuck Paedophile Registration” on the back.

Without a word, Briggs steered me away from the official food counters and urged me instead towards a bewildered-looking vendor peddling murky drinks with a distinctly smoky cast to them. “Kohfah juice blended with fresh goat semen,” said Briggs with a smile. “Works a bit like qat—very refreshing—dispels jet lag, tones up your nervous system, and helps with marital problems, if you know what I mean!” He chuckled heartily. I grinned. Good old Briggsy! He was to prove an invaluable companion; not only was he endlessly knowledgeable about every aspect of the sights and sounds which swirled about us, he understood my quest, my aristocratic yearnings, and the depth of preparation I valued. As to the Kohfah juice, it knocked me for a six: I wandered around Kano quite out of my mind, and sporting a roaring hard-on.

He suggested we spend the night in a near-derelict hotel on the road leading north out of the city. The rooms were sparsely furnished and airless, and I was surprised at the unpretentious choice, but Briggs was firm. “At least part of what you must do involves mental preparedness; a kind of West African yoga, if you like,” he said. We spent much of the night on the back veranda, in close and serious discussion, drinking Johnny Walker and homebrew. Below us, stretching out into the distance, the flickering lights and shouts and animal noises of a lively village.

As Briggs was to make clear, very few Europeans have ever had the privilege of the obuja feast, believed by the Kwaane to be the most sacred of foods ingested in the most sacred of ways. The ceremony of “akabuja” (sacred ingestion) has deep historical roots in the culture of the region, and the culture itself, rich and diverse, is the flowering of many strands of profound human endeavour; some Bantu, some proto-historical, some Islamic. No one who has seen the architecture of Chad or Niger can doubt Africa as the birthplace of mankind. I’m going to do a TV series on it for the BBC.

The sacred food of the Kwaane (known as “ama’bujakaka,” or, more commonly, “bujak”)  is produced within the body of a holy man-child known as an iBujakaka, or “buja-boy.” A buja-boy is selected at birth by the headman of a village and then brought up in special circumstances, so that they can both deliver the sacred food when required and act as a transsexual consort for the headman. Homosexuality is much frowned upon by Kwaane tradition, but local gays ingeniously circumvent the rules by engaging in sodomy only with those conceptually re-classified non-humans (or “bumfuck-ghosts,” as they are also known colloquially), like the buja-boys. Bujadom is thus somewhat comparable to being a castrato, or a eunuch, or the male equivalent of a vestal virgin, although their relegation to the status of non- or trans-human means that they are spared many of the indignities of ordinary life, whether military service, date rape, or long-term unemployment. Buja-boys can also usefully be viewed as a type of royalty, because in exchange for sacred duties, they rise above the irritating convulsions of everyday existence, and seldom have to travel on public transport.

As has probably been understood, Bujak—this most sacred of foods—is produced within the alimentary canal of the iBujakaka. The recipient devotee, after a ritual cleansing and preparation that can, on occasion, last for days, presents himself to the Buja in a purpose-built shrine—the “krik”—where the devotee can ingest the holy bujak directly, hygienically, and without unnecessary distraction. The buja is encouraged by his handlers to adopt an accommodating posture over a stone altar, while the devotee—his mind focussed and sanctified with recitation and prayers—lies receptive underneath, his mouth as close to the Buja as the carefully designed altar will permit. Bujak then emerges directly from the anus of the Buja, and is thus captured by the devotee without an intermediary, as starkly and deliberately as nature intended.  The Kwaane believe the moment of delivery to be a type of mystical union, a oneness between consenting partners of greater intimacy than even that afforded by sexual intercourse, and no less significant than, say, Catholic confession.

The aspect of ama’bujakaka that probably most bothers Europeans—and other well-meaning but misinformed outsiders—relates to the conditions under which Buja-boys are held. In order to stimulate the stomachs of these trans-humans, it is customary for their handlers to beat them lightly with canes, or twist their arms moderately, or frighten them in some harmless way. There is talk of burning the boys with cigarette ends, torturing them with metal hooks, or breaking their limbs—especially their fingers—but this is arrant nonsense. This whole thing probably seems quite distasteful to desk-bound, burger-chomping Westerners, but it has to be understood that that, by European standards, the Buja have no intellect to speak of, and therefore do not feel pain as it is commonly understood. Buja are never educated, and although not deaf and dumb, are quite profoundly unintelligent, communicating largely in squeaks and grunts, and capable only of high-pitched gibberish. They pass their days in darkened Buja rooms, staring stupidly at the walls, or learning the Koran by rote, or waiting patiently to be summoned for sexual favours by their masters. These favours generally take the form of the Buja boys proffering themselves for lubricated buggery, because all Buja commonly have their genitals—as well as their tongues—docked, or removed, in special deeply-traditional ceremonies on reaching adolescence. Both reproductive and speech organs are clearly not germane to the requirements of their privileged, cosseted lifestyle.

And don’t give me that fucking tripe about veal crates: you won’t find a single report on Buja maltreatment amongst the many pamphlets splayed on tables in the foyers of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, or Animal Aid.

Briggs was adamant about choosing exactly the right day for the akabuja itself. Not, for example, to choose a weekend, as the headman would likely be buggering the Buja; not to choose midweek, as the Buja were not fed on a Wednesday; not to choose a Friday, as the handlers would likely be at prayers; not to visit a Buja known to have chronic diarrhoea, and so on. We finally settled on the following Tuesday, contingent of course on political events in the region remaining calm. There really were so many things to think about.

There is a strict protocol to being allowed to participate in akabuja, especially if you are an outsider. This involves graft or dash, as well as convincing the local sheikh that you are of upstanding moral character. In my case, I was required to submit a ream of blank sheets of headed notepaper from my employer, as well as the names and email addresses of 25 character references; these last I made up with as many TV celebrity chefs I could think of.

On the day of the feast, I was, as instructed, awoken before first light by my manservant Adukwe with a cup of Earl Grey. As advised by Briggsy, I dressed in silence, trying to keep my thoughts solemn and my nerves calm. I wore expensive white flannel trousers and a white shirt, both from Jermyn Street, and a beautiful pair of tan Gucci lace-ups. I rounded the ensemble off with a noisy Paul Smith tie, a lightweight Armani jacket in grey, which I draped over my arm, and a brand new mail order Panama hat. Moments later, I heard Briggs arrive in a Land Rover, together with a representative of the local Chief of Police.

Briggs’ plan was that I be accompanied to the gates of the shrine, where I would be introduced to the shrine-keeper, and then left there in his capable hands. It might take some hours for the Buja first to be summoned, and then another considerable period for him to be positioned and coaxed. The shrine keeper would guide me through the accompanying ritual, and see to it that I was comfortably situated—lying on my back—under the altar. Akabuja itself—the sacred delivery and ingestion—might be over in a matter of two or three minutes—I had heard of a case of 18 seconds—depending on the skill and experience of the Buja’s handlers. And immediately upon ingestion, one is expected to exit the sanctum without delay and then sit quietly in the shrine garden for perhaps ten minutes, alone and in reflective mood, before re-joining one’s companions to bouts of hearty back-slapping and tearful congratulations.

I expected the road leading to the shrine to be empty this early in the morning, but I was mistaken. It appeared as if most of the village had come out to see the foreigner, and many of the younger men repeatedly made lewd gestures—grabbing the buttocks of their companions and then passing cupped hands to their mouths—followed by ribald remarks to general laughter. I felt quite self-conscious in my lily-white clobber, but Briggs commended me on my appearance and made some trenchant observations on the degraded dress-sense of most of the locals.

The route to the shrine snaked between houses, sheds, mud huts, lean-tos, and piles of refuse. Briggs saw to it that I did not stumble or smear my brogues in muck, and I felt his steadying hand on my elbow when he thought I was hesitating. He occasionally mopped by brow with a Kleenex when he thought the beads of sweat on my brow were likely to stain my shirt, and although his ministrations increased my sense of self-consciousness and vulnerability, I appreciated his paternal concern.

The chatter of the onlookers reached a crescendo at the entrance to the shrine itself. A glance over my shoulder revealed that many of the lewd boys were following our party in a shambling, grinning, procession; I detected hostility in their baying, and was grateful for the protection afforded by Briggs and his police representative.

The shrine itself, set behind low mud walls in a clearing in a thicket at the edge of the village, was utterly charming. It comprised a tight cluster of three domed mud huts, a small hut at the front, a larger one in the middle, and another smaller hut at the rear; all three were decorated with meandering black and white hieroglyphs. The courtyard of hardened mud had been swept clean, and the black, white, and brown of the mud and decorations contrasted stunningly with the emerald green of the neighbouring overgrowth. The effect was both ancient and modern; fiercely traditional yet equally comfortable within the strictures of contemporary ethnic design.

The noise of the crowd brought the elderly shrine keeper out of the antechamber. He was dressed in a white robe and turban and appeared surprised, if not somewhat irritated, to see us. Briggs began talking to him in the local dialect, but I did not sense that the keeper remembered any prior arrangement with him. Their conversation lasted some minutes, with the crowd that had followed us listening intently. Eventually, Briggs handed him a wad of dollar notes, and the shrine keeper’s irritability seemed to wane a little, although his instructions to me, when they came, were terse and unfriendly. He gestured first that I should take off my shoes and go inside the antechamber, leaving my shoes, jacket, and hat by the entrance. “Okay, you’re on your own now, chum,” said Briggs, patting me on the back. “Enjoy yourself: this’ll be quite the most delicious gourmet repast you’ll ever have in your life!”

I went inside the front antechamber, followed closely by the keeper. The crowd waiting behind the low walls appeared noticeably to relax, and I saw Briggs and the police officer light up cigarettes and begin chatting. By now, I was really quite hungry, not having eaten since the night before, and having broken my fast with only a single cup of Earl Grey.

The antechamber was bare except for a crude bench to one side and some packing cases. A wooden door led into the main shrine, but it was closed, and the keeper did not make any attempt to open it. He pointed to the bench, and gestured that I should sit there and wait. He then turned on a series of light switches, one of which turned on a naked bulb above me, before leaving me in the room alone. The air was warm and humid, yet not unduly close. I could hear the exchange of voices outside, but the position of my bench was such that my view of the road was obscured. Briggs had told me that I should use this period for quiet reflection and try not to overexcite myself with anticipation. I must have remained like this for nearly 50 minutes.

My daydreaming was eventually broken by raised voices in the crowd. I heard shouts of “Buja akamela!” (“The Buja-boy is coming!”), interspersed with whoops and catcalls. The keeper, now irritable again, scurried inside and gestured for me to take off my tie and loosen by collar. The crowd was very noisy by now; almost everyone seemed to be shouting. Then I heard an unsettling, high-pitched shrieking and wailing, greeted by laughter and wolf-whistles from the crowd. The keeper now suddenly reappeared, grinning excitedly, and revealing dog-like yellow teeth. “Evalla Buja” (“Buja is here”), he barked. He had prepared himself ritually for the occasion by applying red lipstick, donning Jackie Onassis shades, and sucking on a lollipop; under any other circumstances I might have taken fright, but fortunately, Briggsy had warned me that something like this could happen. Then the keeper pushed open the door into the shrine itself and motioned for me to go inside.

The design of the shrine room itself was disarmingly simple: it comprised only of what appeared to be a low, empty fireplace, flanked by two wooden benches. The walls were whitewashed and the only light was provided by naked electric bulbs.

The keeper had me lie down on my back, my head in the fireplace, and look upwards. Above me, carved into the stone, was a large oval-shaped opening—wide enough for a man to put his head through—and above that, I could see part of the walls and domed roof of the hut behind us. The keeper had me put my arms to my sides, my hands resting on my stomach. I felt quite at peace, quite emptied of silliness, yet at one with my yearning for the ultimate in good food.

I could still hear noises and shouting and clamour from the street. Then I heard the cacophony and the sounds of a struggle spilling into the room above the sacred altar. It sounded like a group of people wrestling to subdue a prisoner; the voices were urgent and hostile. Then the petrified shrieking—a grotesque, almost electronic noise—began again, and I realised that the same shrieks I had heard earlier were now coming through the opening above me, accompanied as they were by a cascade of footfalls—a mixture of the dull thuds of Buja’s naked soles with the crack of his helpers’ leather boots—all over the hard mud floor.

Suddenly, above me, a huge pair of rotund, naked brown buttocks slapped themselves down on the altar-stone opening and spread themselves apart. I was transfixed by the vision of the purple anus a mere inch or two away from my face and noticed that the Buja’s rectal opening had been garnished with lemon juice and muscavodo sugar, most probably from Mauritius. Without my glasses, I could also make out the Buja’s castration scars and the penile stump. Then I heard the keeper screaming at me: “Makalla upaka! Makalla upaka!” (“Open your mouth!”) I readily obliged, but nothing seemed to happen. I could hear the sound of a cane thrashing viciously against naked Buja flesh, then more shouts and the sound of pounding fists. Again, the unearthly squealing of the Buja; half-pig, half-banshee. Then the Buja unexpectedly, and incontinently, broke wind in my face: a rolling series of “plips” and “praps” and “prarts” blasted against my cheeks and parted my floppy quiff, yet the odour, though clearly intestinal, was certainly no worse than the stench of cooking which greets you in the stinking lobby of any fucking British hotel. I kept my mouth wide open, in the cavernous “aaah” much appreciated by dental surgeons everywhere. Strokes of the cane again. A few squirts of the Buja’s urine splashed unhelpfully on my forehead. I heard what sounded like a swinging chain crunching into the Buja’s shoulders. Then I sensed the buttocks twisting and grinding against the altar-stone, when behold, suddenly peeping out of the anus, the first little white hank of the much longed-for bujaka! The shouts of the handlers increased in intensity, and I heard a crushing blow which I believe was the Buja’s head being heartily struck with a block of wood, whereupon a okra-sized portion of bujak slid effortlessly out of his rectum and straight into my mouth.

Perhaps, gentle reader, we should pause at this point. I have, in a way, already transgressed decorum in revealing details of this most intimate of ceremonies. There is much else that I could say, much else that I could divulge by way of local colour, but to what end? iBujaka is something that one should taste for oneself, and not read about it in magazines. I urge those who’ve had just about enough of the cult of the TV celebrity chef to buy an airline ticket to darkest Africa and try this one in the flesh.

And what of the experience itself? Despite wholly unrealistic expectations on my part, and despite Briggs and his relentless pro-Kwaane bullshit, I was prepared for the worst, yet I was completely bowled over. Bujak is heavenly: it’s succulent and satisfying; delicate yet substantial; it’s straightforwardly gorgeous and as heart-warming as anything you’ll eat at the hands of one of those mincing pimps in Mayfair or the thug in Chelsea. There were hints of cardamon, blueberries, fresh tennis shoes, Madagascan vanilla, and a whiff of basmati rice, watered by the snow-fed rivers of the Himalayas. Admittedly, my Buja was, according to Briggs, corn-fed, and possibly free range, after a fashion.

The only thing lacking as an accompaniment to this most holy of foods was a crisp white wine—I would recommend a lightly chilled Menon Blanc from Jean-Pierre Swagot’s vineyards north of Brimand—admittedly terrifyingly expensive, even from Tesco, but its icy smoothness would not only contrast with the lukewarm temperature of the bujak, it would also serve to cleanse the palate.  I don’t know what my chum with the lipstick and Jackie Kennedy shades would have had to say about a frosted glass of Chablis on the floor next to me, but no doubt a few bills could have helped him see the sense of it all.

Bujak on the shelf of your local supermarket? You better believe it. I’ve seen shrink-wrapped trays of it for sale at a famous store in Knightsbridge; it’s just a matter of time before the supermarkets get their fucking plastic paws on it. I’ve heard horrible stories of projectile vomiting and week-long retching after bingeing on Bujak, but that’s horseshit. I’m sold, I love the fucking stuff. I can’t wait to arrange for another sacred ingestion.

On my way home in the plane—after the seatbelt sign had gone off—one of the Nigerian businessmen across the aisle from me pulled a live bush piglet out from under the billowing skirt of his ethnic garb and, with the skill of a surgeon, punctured its throat with a pen-knife. Mumbling some halal slogans and, using his enormous banana fingers to grip its writhing torso tightly, he drained its blood into a series of polystyrene cups, before cutting the still-twitching little beast up into manageable strips of meat, which he cleverly par-dried on the head-rest of the seat in front of him. Sure, it stank, sure, it made a mess, and sure, the piglet squealed and fought for dear fucking life, though, of course, it did seem to be calmed by the halal mantras. But, for fuck’s sake, this was food as it was meant to be. This was natural, organic, stylish. No shrink-wrapped shit for this chief and his chums; these guys deserve every dollar they make out of their money transfer scams. I laughed out loud. I felt much the poorer to be going back to the clapped-out philistinism of London. What a fucking city! Give me Kano any day.