We have all visited a restaurant at some point and had the unfortunate (sometimes laughable) experience of trying to pronounce the names of exotic dishes from the menu which are foreign to our palettes. This is an experience commonly shared in the likes of Chinese, Indian, Italian, French, Japanese, Greek or Turkish restaurant; but hardly ever in West African restaurants in particular as you don't find many non-Africans in there.
But why so? You may ask. Well, some say it’s down to poor marketing, PR, branding, food presentation and so on.
Now, to a native of the continent, this is puzzling! Not only because the flavours in African food send the taste buds of a gastronomic thrill seeker on an epic journey but also because of the huge number of Africans who live in the UK and have done so for so long.
This, however may not be the case for much longer. The British foodie scene, after trying many new trends may finally be ready for the awesomeness that is African food. Long gone are the ridiculous perceptions of Africans eating bugs and meals that are spicy enough to burn off a layer of your face.
Many African restauranteurs, bloggers and chefs are enjoying a unique space within the industry which allows them to present both authentic traditional dishes as well as experiment and create new fusion dishes and edible works of art for all to savor. Evidently, some of these entrepreneurs know a thing or two about marketing, PR & branding as you only need to look online and witness the creativity of these people.
Take the image of this post for example; 10 years ago when I wasn’t in the marketing/PR industry I would have simply called it ‘Beans and plantain’ but after spending a good amount of time creating this image for our client ‘Tasty African Food’ we’d prefer to call it; Slow cooked African red beans topped with a spicy tomato relish & wrapped in a twice fried plantain slice. Phew!
From finely shaped pounded yam and melon seed soup to sweet fried dough balls dipped in chocolate sauce; there is definitely something for every taste.
Africans have enjoyed the exclusivity of their dishes to themselves for long enough… it is now time to share with the world!
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