Cooking….. The African Way
“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is a saying that is very common in Africa and the world over. Back at home, this typically symbolizes the importance of good cooking in maintaining a happy and healthy relationship with one’s significant other and is credited as the major contributor to a happily married family life.
The African subculture being so very rich and diverse collectively elevates food to a peculiar status in mostly all events. These may run from weddings to communal gatherings, parties to even funerals, with food, …”good” food expected to be in abundant and conspicuous supply. Even a simple visit amongst friends can easily turn into an opportunity for the “Madam” of the house to be called upon to demonstrate her culinary prowess from the kitchen. Whereas being mostly a maternally driven society, the ladies are expected to cook or arrange for food for the families. Thus having a diverse working culinary knowledge comes to good use for the continued wellbeing of households and promulgation of happy well-fed husbands alike.
Traditionally, such culinary knowledge is gleaned through years of what I fondly call “apprenticeship” in a Mama’s kitchen. Lifestyles outside Africa for the womenfolk (conflicting work schedules, school schedules, extracurricular activities or plain disinterest) however poses a set of challenges which makes this kind of training harder to attain. So what is a girl to do?
Here are some options:
1. Eat out every night? …very expensive… not sure how long that will last.
2. Have a mom live you permanently?…this will seriously cramp one’s lifestyle
3. Learn how to cook? Ok! But how?
Launched in September 2006 AfroFoodtv.com is an on-line resource for everything epicuriously African. I serve as chef and hostess on the Web site, was inspired to create the site to share my love of African food to a population I found had little, if any, exposure to the cuisine. Since Africa is a continent of more than 600 million people, I believe that if that many people enjoy a type of food, there must be something special about it.
The target audience of AfroFoodtv.com is broad – to anyone who has not tried African cuisine; however, it is more narrowly aimed at women ranging in age from 18 to 45. The Web site has a bright, clean design with links that are easy to navigate. The home page offers a video welcome that warmly conveys the passion I feel for African cuisine and my desire to share it with the world. The home page also includes quick links and images of recently added recipes.
The Web site is broken down into five main areas: TV (video demonstrations), recipes, AfroFood bytes (quarterly newsletter), holidays and Afro-info.
The TV section is a library of more than 30 video demonstrations hosted by Yeti Ezeanii. Titled “Taste of Africa” and delivered in Flash Video format, these segments are primarily cooking demonstrations of popular recipes from different African countries and regions that are designed to educate viewers on the proper preparation of African cuisine. One non-recipe demonstration offers African craft ideas for children. New videos are recorded monthly and uploaded to the Web site.
Africa is a continent of more than 50 countries, at different levels of development, using a wide variety of cooking styles and ingredients. African cooking is a very old tradition, and many of the recipes have been passed down for centuries from mothers to their daughters. The recipes offered on AfroFoodtv.com represent some of the well-known, classic dishes from the various regions of the continent.
The recipe section is broken down into the following areas: staples, soups, stews, chicken, fish, meat, snacks and sides. Each recipe includes a list of locally available ingredients, detailed, easy-to-follow preparation instructions, serving information and estimated preparation and cook times. Some of the recipes also include suggested accompaniments to serve with the dish. New recipes are added monthly to the Web site.
October 2007 marked the first issue of “AfroFood bytes,” a quarterly, electronic newsletter to complement AfroFoodtv.com. Each issue provides a “culinary journey through Africa and beyond” with spotlights on African chefs and their restaurants, cooking tips, information and history of African staples such as maize (corn) as well as featured recipes.
As in any culture, holidays are an important time for family and friends with food being an integral part. This section of AfroFoodtv.com highlights various holidays, such as Easter and Christmas, and the history, traditions and recipes that make these holidays so special.
In this section, visitors to AfroFoodtv.com can email questions; request to be added to the mailing list to receive updates when new videos and recipes are added to the site; view media placements featuring me and AfroFoodtv.com ; and inquire about advertising opportunities on the Web site and in the newsletter.
With a growing number of visitors monthly, AfroFoodtv.com is filling a void by providing a dynamic, educational resource to showcase the culture, cuisine and traditions of the many regions in Africa. To expand on the AfroFoodtv brand, I am in the process of publishing a cookbook and is currently on the Dish Network Channel 751 on Sundays at 6pmEST.