Are There Limits To Good-Looking and Good-Sounding Food?


FoodIdeas & Innovation

Sometimes people say we should leave what is written on the motor and enter motor but when it comes to food, reverse is the case. Presentation has a huge effect on appetite and because the eyes eat the food before the mouth, how we present food is of utmost importance. If I had known this I would have taken my catering classes more seriously, but I guess my tomato and cucumber salad was average enough to earn me an A in WAEC.

For some time now, MasterChef has ranked top five things that keep me glued to DSTV. Each season always has a lot to learn from including the Masterchef Junior. I have seen the role presentation plays and I have seen people spared because their presentation was top notch even when their food was not properly cooked.

Stumbling on Knorr Kitchen quest, I noticed that versatility in presentation is an area that still needs to be explored more. Not that there is not any of it going on; food bloggers like Kitchen Butterfly and Uzo food labs and others have been very creative and innovative with our indigenous dishes. Uzo’s green rice and stew made with scent leaf is a creative twist to the regular white rice and stew. While watching the Knorr Quest, I also learnt other impressive recipes that really showed how fast we are evolving from the regular stew on rice. Social media as a space, has been fertile for these new generation foods and the reactions from the people out there can be really thought provoking. Did you, like me, also stumble on this picture of moimoi over the past week?


Via MatseCooks (@matsecooks on Instagram)

The meal, which is very appealing, provoked a lot of reactions of which the funniest was that the moi-moi went to Harvard. Staying with the schools descirptors, I can also say that this Ewagoin and bread must have gone to MIT; with the technical finesse with which it was presented, I couldn’ t think of any other school. There are no debates as to the pleasant aesthetics but the interesting part of this cuisine adventure we’ve embarked on is the curious naming.  This is where some people actually disagree because they feel it makes the food less Nigerian and also makes us less proud of what we have.

Personally, “assorted whisked cassava granules” doesn’t make as much sense as Eba! But besides the funny names, I also think that originality and authenticity should not be sacrificed on the altar of wokeness. Authenticity would mean that we have some elements that are “enduring” even when there are embellishments in presentation. For example, while Basmati jollof rice is welcome in top notch eateries, the regular jollof rice will remain even for the next half century. Originality would also mean that certain kinds of food should be treated or rather presented in a certain way.

My mini WhatsApp poll showed that ninety percent could not recognize that the white substance placed beside this Eba was pounded yam. One of my very funny friends even said he didn’t think it was edible.  While the ten percent argued that the audience for which the dish was prepared for would not mind having the pounded yam in any shape, I beg to disagree. I do so certain that that sausage shaped Eba, even if shaped like cheese balls, will not get me to salivate. Yam is too significant to be treated this way, and not just any kind of yam – pounded yam! My New Yam festivals consciousness and the value I know Yoruba attach to the pounded yam do not permit me, sorry. Shaping pounded yam into twists that look like Kwulikwuli doesn’t meet either the standards of originality or authenticity.

This is just me and my WhatsApp focus group though. What do you think?


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