Some SA fast-food joints charge more than 30% extra on items listed on Mr D and Uber Eats. | .Impact of Covid-19 on Cannabis-infused Food & Beverage Market 2018 - 2024. | .Food Grade Alcohol Market Projected to Grow at a Steady Pace During 2021-2028 Covid-19 .... | .Food Waste Recycling Machine Market 2021 Analysis by Global Manufacturers – Enic Co Limited .... | .BPNI, NAPi and EFI organise webinar to guide consumption of processed food in India. | .Rights: Should South Africa trade freedom for food?. | .South Africa swims against the global tide, puts 'controlled' fracking back on the agenda. | .South Africa's Johnson & Johnson vaccine roll-out is still in limbo. | .'Hotel Rwanda' dissident denied food and medicine in jail, family says. | .Woolworths Holdings CEO says its David Jones food strategy doomed from the start
Home » Restaurants » Dine Diaspora Introduces D.C. to Wide-Ranging African Cuisines

Dine Diaspora Introduces D.C. to Wide-Ranging African Cuisines

dine_diaspora-582c722ad92f6

Founders of the dinner series hope to upend preconceived notions about African cuisine.

NOV 16, 2016 10 AM

Ethiopian cuisine is well represented in the D.C. area and covered by the press liberally, but other African cuisines don’t penetrate the market as much in terms of availability and exposure. Dine Diaspora is working to change that.

For the last three years, the group, which was founded by three Ghanaian women who live in the D.C. area–Nina OduroMaame Boakye, and Nana Ama Afari-Dwamena–has been hosting ticketed dinner parties cooked by a variety of chefs inspired by the African diaspora. The meals expose guests to a broad range of culinary traditions from across the continent.

The organization’s next event on Nov. 19 will be held at 6 p.m. at Gallery NK (321 K St. NE). It features Pierre Thiam, a widely celebrated Senegalese chef. Tickets are $150.

Thiam’s most recent cookbook, “Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl,” was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Book Award this year; he has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown;” and his work has been written up in SAVEUR. His five-course tasting menu will include an okra and seafood stew with plantain foutou (a starchy dumpling used as an edible utensil for the dish) and mafé (a thick peanut stew with lamb).

Caroline Adegun

Caroline Adegun Oduro hopes that dinners like this one upend guests’ preconceived notions about African cuisine. “There are a lot of stereotypes about African food,” she says. “One: that there is not a lot of food. Two: our food doesn’t translate into a lot of other cultures.”

To overcome the latter issue, the Dine Diaspora team works with chefs to ensure a balance between authenticity and innovation thus encouraging first-timers to try unfamiliar foods. At a past dinner, Chef Eric Adjepong, a New York-based personal chef and a first-generation Ghanaian-American, created paella with traditional Ghanaian jollof rice, a precursor to jambalaya that is flavored with tomato paste and onions. At a different event, Jamaican jerk chicken was presented in the style of a pulled pork slider. Oduro asks, “Who doesn’t like a slider?”

Another overwhelming stereotype is that African food is monolithic. Though there are some analogous dishes that carry across some cultures and countries, the cuisines found across the continent are diverse. “We try not to mesh it all together into one,” says Oduro. “We want each one to stand on its own.”

In addition to the seated dinners, Dine Diaspora hosts Chop Bar cocktail parties and Dish and Sip events, which feature speakers such as  culinary historian Michael Twitty, the creator of the food blog Afroculinaria.

Though the group’s activities are currently restricted to the D.C. area, they have seen a growing international interest in their work. “We get so many people from the UK and Canada joining our mailing list and emailing in the hopes we can bring chefs to their countries to do events,” says Oduro. “It’s great to see African food coveted elsewhere. D.C. is just the beginning.”

Photo by Ralston Smith


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *