Out of Africa: sub-Saharan cuisine emerges from the culinary desert
From falafels to tagines, North African cuisine enjoys ready-meal-level recognition around the world. But sub-Saharan food has been a slower sell.
Specialist grocers and restaurants have been selling expats the ingredients for decades, but only now is foodie coverage beginning to catch up. About time, too: the superfood cycle has rehabilitated African essentials, like coconut and sweet potato, and Ethiopian staple teff is the latest gluten-free wondergrain. Sobering thoughts for Gordon Ramsay, whose dislike of okra is legendary, and for Jamie Oliver, whose 2014 recipe for jollof rice attracted thousands of comments from people protesting its inauthenticity.
But it’s an opportunity for those in the know – like the three young South Londoners behind supper club experiment The Groundnut, which is rooted in veg-heavy Nigerian and Sierra Leonean dishes, influenced by their heritage. They’ve taken their supper club on the road, from Glasgow to Amsterdam, to give a taste of their work, and also secured a book deal. ‘We just wanted to celebrate the stuff we’d always enjoyed,’ says Folayemi Brown, one third of The Groundnut. ‘To return to the real classics, and hopefully give guidelines so other people who grew up with them can make them too.’
As originally featured in the November 2015 issue of Wallpaper* (W*200)