Embracing African Cuisine
The restaurant revolution in the global food industry is among us. The end of 2017 saw the global food consulting firm The Food People predict that traditional dishes from West Africa would be noted as the ‘great untapped cuisine’ in Britain. The global food sector specifically Britain is exploring virtues of African food due to the generation of diasporic foodies. Chefs such as Yemisi Aribisala and Alicia Ama of the Ghanaian food stall Chale in Britain are breaking down the stigma around traditional African food. This is accomplished through the creation of food stalls, cookbooks and pop up themed events.
Locally African foodies are inspiring fellow Africans from various regions to reimage African cuisine. Chefs are dancing with the African palette by altering traditional African cuisine. This highlighting the business prospect of the ‘modernised’ market of African cuisine. As well as drawing in the younger generation to exploring cuisine originated from the continent.
The African Foodie chef is a hybrid, they are not just making food, but they double up as food bloggers, Instagram influncers with the aim to educate and visually tease the audience with their modernized take on traditional food. The African Food Map is a blog which is ‘committed to introducing and making popular cuisine from Africa accessible’ Once a month the site focuses on a specific country and highlights four of its popular dishes. Founded by Tuleka Prah the site is a collection of popular recipes around the continent.
Chefs such as Nigerian Ozoz Sokoh are rebranding the notion of African food. As a chef and blogger Sokoh has created her take of a ‘New Nigerian’ kitchen philosophy in which she created Nigerian cuisine from start to finish. Zambian Malcolm Riley also known as the African Chef draws his inspiration of African cuisine from South African food. The African chef explores foods and flavours across the continent, he describes his style of cooking as ‘Anglo – Afro Indian’. Such chefs are reimagining traditional African cuisine for the urban African.
Cooking up a storm
‘It’s time to make changes, so that the future generations have a food inheritance, a wealth of traditional ingredients, restored knowledge of our culture and heritage to be proud’
The African foodie is creating a narrative for traditional African foods. Chefs are producing cook books to preserve and document age old traditions while adding a modern twist to traditional foods. While other chefs are exploring the versatility of traditional foods by creating ‘healthier’ versions. Eat Ting is a recipe book created by dietician Mpho Tshukudu and food anthropologist Anna Trapido, the book provides healthy options to traditional South African dishes. Tshukudu describes the cook book as a ‘modern internationally relevant cook book that celebrates South African heritage ingredients, recipes and cooking methods’. The cook book has 66 recipes and was specifically created for the black consumer in mind. Tshukudu states that ‘there never has been cook books for black people, other ethnic groups can also use the information to celebrate their own culture and learn about African food.’
Nompumelolo Mqwebu’s cook book Through the Eyes of an African Chef aims to ‘introduce South African cuisine for both home and professional restaurant cooking’ Mqwebu further states that she is on a path to revive local food culture which has been undervalued.
Interesting services and products are being produced, these are examples of the African foodie removing the stereotypical view of African traditional food. The African Deli has created a heat and eat mogodu (tripe). Founded by Silvanas Kathindi , he stated that the product was inspired by his busy life and constant craving for traditional food which generally takes time to cook.
‘This is for the modernized, aspirational traditionalist who have busy lives. You are saving time, you won’t have to deal with the smell of fresh mogodu and will not need to cook it for hours’
Foodprenur Essie Bartel found American food very bland following her move from Ghana. She tackled this challenge by creating spices and sauce blends inspired by her childhood in Accra through her company Essie Spice. She takes flavours from her past and reinvents them with ingredients from around the world, which results in a ‘New West African’ taste. Currently the products are sold in the US, Canada and Ghana. South African foodpreneur Itumeleng Mputle specilaises in the creation of the tripe wrap under his company Fine Thanks Creations. The company produces modern South African cuisine.
‘I want to give South Africans something different and new, a creative product with some traditional touch into it and that is how the tripe wrap came about’