Sunday, August 01, 2010

New food

picture from here
I am an avid observer of things and one of the many issues that has consumed my brain functions over the time I have spent here in the US is why, unlike some other cultures, Nigerian food has not been elevated to the status of public patronage as say other African cuisines (Ethiopian) or Asian (Thai, japanese, korean, chinese, etc).
I came out with a few deductions.

1. Value
We Nigerians don't see the value in eating out, our own dishes. When you have a wife that will slave in the kitchen for hours to make you the food that you want, why would you go and spend $40.00 on the same thing. As a result, whenever anyone asks to sample Nigerian food, there are never any restaurants to take them to; you simply invite them over.
Unlike us, Ethiopian foods are a group effort. Portions are presented on a huge platter and expected to be shared. So also for most Asian cuisine that is built around the same concept. Also, remember in the case with most Asian urban areas, space is limited and for an apartment housing 15 people, cooking might not be a good idea, so they go outside. Hence, public eating. Hence, the growth of their restaurants.

2. Presentation.
Here, I move the Ethiopians out of the way and settle on the Asians. For them, presentation is as much a part of the dish as is the taste. I mean, there are generations of royal chefs whose jobs were to make the royal dining experience as much a visual spectacle as much one for the palate.
Nigerian food, not so much. The portions are bulky. Some move, some don't. We have not yet figured out a way to present our foods in a way that is comparative. Maybe because, we don't care. I have been taught to cook but i was not exactly taught how to arrange jollof rice on a plate to make it look like a mound of yellow surrounded a piece of meat. Part food arrangements are done more out of making sure the plate of food does not topple over.
Take a look at these fruit carvings from Thailand. Each one takes about two hours to complete

Although, the picture at the top does look a bit like a design but you see where I am going with this

This is both a good and bad thing. Because our style of cooking is a bit subjective, the outcome is not the same every single time. We don't employ thermometers, stop clocks and measuring bowls for the ingredients. We use a flick of the wrist and the eye of experience which can sometimes be off. Thus, we cannot guarantee that the dining experience will be the same. But that also means that if we blow your mind once, we can rock your world in another way.

I might be wrong...what says you?


Enitan said...

I totally agree with this. Might i also add that a Nigerian resturant must at least be headed by an Nigerian or employ Nigerian chefs/cooks, and we all know what our people are like when it comes to customer service - Zilch! And let's not forget the 'na ma broda resturant, how i go pay..and people bring padis along who won't pay also' and then want becomes of the resturant?
oh dear, i didn't mean to rant..

Ms. Catwalq said...

Abeg Enitan, carry go. You even added things I did not remember

Anonymous said...

Wait, Cattie!Was just imagining how to carve HHHHHOOOOT akpu, amala, or starch... I beg oooo. Do make u kon back home kon helep Mama!