A colored, soggy slop of food with no dimension seems to always sound like an African dish. I remember the words of my friend from Pakistan “Africa has varieties of lovely dishes but they have poor presentation...it usually looks all over the plate….”
|Gbegiri Ewedu and Stew...Slopped!!!|
I am guessing my friend has been seeing a lot of African dishes like Amala, Ewedu, or Pounded Yam and Ogbona combined with the fact that we eat these meals with our bare hands.
I remember attending a Jamaican party and was served Brown Rice and Peas with Oxtail and Boiled Sweet Corn on the Cob. It was luscious but definitely weird looking to what I am used to having at parties.
|Brown Rice and Peas|
A Baked potato for lunch cut in half and stuffed with Cottage Cheese and Beetroot with sprinkles of black pepper and some salt?..uhmmm? Definitely weird looking, weird combo, weird taste but seeing a clean presentation of this would make you try before you even decide if it’s taste is right for you or not.
|Potato, Beetroot,cottage cheese|
One Impression that should remain standard here is that your food culture is your food culture and because of the worlds stage of globalization we embrace other food culture to try our food culture.
To make this possible, something comes into mind, the need for proper packaging and presentation so it can be globally acceptable.
In culinary arts, the duty of a chef is one -focusing on taste and gastronomy, hospitality is another but food styling and presentation is the extra value added to all the hard work.
Everyday African meals can be well presented and styled and greater attention must be paid to it, if it’s to be served at events.
One of the major cues to presentation and food styling is color, crunch, aroma, texture and plating.
The easiest way to incorporate all of these into your meals is to add vegetables making sure you steam them and not overcook them.
The easiest colors are the greens, reds, yellows, oranges and sometimes purple.
The best crunch is to slightly cook, steam, or leave raw fresh.
The best aroma is to sprinkle black pepper, white pepper, parsley, coriander, thyme, basil, or mints leaves. The texture, whatever condiment it might be don’t overcook, avoid too runny, too sloppy, too sticky or too smelly.
The plating, a white round plate, avoiding thumb prints, water marks, slippery or wet plate bottoms. For professionalism you can have your chef kit ready in other to create a fantastic creative look to your meals.
Here are some pictures of what an African dish can look like when it’s well presented.
|Stewed Chicken Laps|
|Fried Plantain Sticks, Ofada Sauce with Turkey|
|Eba (Cassava Balls), Vegetable Spinach, sprinkled melon bits with Fried stewed Croacker Fish|
|Boiled Yam with Fried Egg|
|Basmati Jellof Rice with, Carrot sticks, Cabbage,Red Chili peppers and Turkey Chop.|