The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sunday News Correspondent
AN African food revolution is brewing with new recipes and preparatory dimensions in the offing in a book penned by university lecturer, Makhosi Mahlangu.
Titled, Our Food, Our Heritage, Our Future the book seeks to place African food at par with European food giving cooks room to make international meals out of local delicacies.
While traditional food has been embraced at restaurants it has struggled to break into the international food scene. Generally traditional food has remained static with few efforts being made to modernise it or adopt it for international restaurants.
Lupane State University, food science lecturer, Mahlangu, who believes food is the cornerstone of any culture, was inspired by a two-year stay in Parma, Italy to reinvigorate African foods. The book is an in-depth look at traditional African cooking with reference to the Ndebele (Zimbabwe) way of cooking.
“I was inspired by Italian food especially when I visited Parma in Italy where the town is famous for Parma ham, Parmesan cheese and Parmalatte. I learnt the richness of a food culture which is driven by Fashion Art and Architecture. These principles drove me to have an in-depth look at our own food culture.
“We are working on redeveloping and rebranding our culture using four elements Food, Art, Fashion and Architecture. We want to redefine African culture and food documentation is an important tool in societal development. The book looks at traditional/indigenous foods from a Ndebele cultural perspective,” he said.
This compilation brings science, human determinism, intuition, food artistry, history and technology into one pot to develop future food production systems using locally-based resources and techniques. The book is set to be launched at a high-profile function at a local hotel that will be graced by the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon Nqobizitha Ndlovu, pan-Africanist, Joshua Maponga and historian, Pathisa Nyathi among others.
Mahlangu said he hopes people will be encouraged to embrace culinary traditions by the book which shows the link between history and the future and has numerous recipes including almost lost food stuffs like umcaba.
“We should know that our food is still heavily colonised. Our food is not studied or documented. If you go to culinary schools there is literally no African foods. People study French cuisines becoming ambassadors of foreign food trends and this definitely needs to change,” he said.
The book opens with a brief history on the people of Zimbabwe and has chapters on culinary traditions, meant, sorghum, traditional African beer, maize, milk , relishes, izadenda, fruits and basic food processing techniques.
There is also a chapter on comparison between Italian food systems and African food systems by Roger Coianiz. Other authors that made contributions to the book include historian, Pathisa Nyathi, Kenyan acclaimed chef, Njathi Kabui, educator, Sarah Savory and Delta Mbonisi Sivalo, a governance practitioner.