Sharing culture through food: April 1st, a world recipe exchange

Tunisian bowls and Ugandan baskets full of fruit and veggies

Fair trade meets organic: This is how Mama uses her Tunisian bowls and baskets from Ghana and Uganda

I was talking to a couple of friends on Twitter recently about one of the things I love best: food. These friends are from the U.K. (Ireland, England and Scotland to be precise) and they very graciously offered to share a few of their favorite recipes with me. You see, I’ve always had this image of what foods from England and Scotland were. I do have a few Irish friends, most of whom are Irish-American; so I do know a bit about their dishes, many of which I really love. Even my African mother made Corned beef and cabbage for us from time to time when I was a kid. She learned it from some Irish-American woman many years ago and our family has enjoyed it since.

I got to thinking, food really is part of what makes cultures what they are. I mean, who doesn’t see a croissant and think of France? Coq au vin and Cassoulet say France as much as the Eiffel tower and the Champs Elysées do. I put a bowl of delicious pasta in front of my kids and they think Italy (unless of course it is made with Eritrean berbere (a traditional blend of spices: hot, hot, hot); in which case they say “Oh you made it Eritrean style”. That dish of pasta is a piece of Eritrea’s history. When the Italian’s colonized, the Eritreans adopted their pasta; yet prepared it often with “Eritrean flare”, adding local traditional spices to it. That bowl of spicy spaghetti or zitti is a snapshot of Eritrea’s past.

So, with more thought, I realized that there is so much of culture that is linked to food. So much of African culture is connected to sharing a meal together (as is true in most of the world). We sit, we talk, we eat, we laugh… Its what humans do, and what many of us enjoy doing most. Thus, with the help of a few friends on Twitter, (BIG thanks to: @belfastangel @VallyVally @topiaryart @ArushaFairTrade and @Clicky_here for their help!) I thought it would be great to share culture, our own cultures… those we most love and treasure… with others. We could make a simple dish and share it with others.

Perhaps you too are interested in sharing a piece of your culture, your childhood, your nation. Or, maybe you have fallen in love with the cuisine of a country because of a vacation there, marrying someone from there or a dear friend who taught you to cook a dish that they love. The reasons you are tied to the cuisine don’t matter. Just your desire to share it with the rest of the world. You don’t need to be a professional chef or even a foodie, just a cook who wants to share a dish with us virtually.

If you are interested, here is the recipe:

Take one well-loved recipe from any region on this little ball called Earth.
Add the time needed to jot it down (on your blog, on your Facebook page, in 140 characters or less on Twitter, add them as a “comment” here on Mama’s blog… however you like)
Share it.

Optional garnishes:
Actually cooking the dish and describing the aromas to us 😉
Taking a photo of the dish you’ve made and posting the photos to share with us
Eating the food as a reward for being so kind to others
The garnish options are limited only by your imagination…

I’m really looking forward to April 1st this year! Not only will I be able to cook something special for my friends (you); but I’ll be able to share a little piece of my culture in the process. But most of all, I’ll get the opportunity to learn something about the rest of you. Whether you are from Madison, Wisconsin and want to share your grandmother’s meatloaf recipe, from Angola and want to tell us why your chicken dish is the best around, or you are from India and would like us to know how to make the best curry around… share! Because life is best lived when sharing.

Looking forward to meeting you all through your food… soon!

Love,

Mama Afrika 🙂

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