Sdu Gerasch is a writer, baker, chef and businesswoman whose love for all things continental, has made her one of the people I go to whenever I need advice about food from the continent.
She has made it her mission to educate South Africans about food from the continent and open us up to learning to love and appreciate African cuisine.
I spoke to her about how her love for African cuisine and how more South Africans should start enjoying food from the rest of the continent.
For those who are scared to venture out of their comfort zone, which country's cuisine should they try first and what should they order?
I would suggest cuisine from Ivory Coast, Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco and Gabon.
I was recently introduced to Ivorian cuisine, and I fell in love instantly. Their food is not complicated, yet very tasty. I had attiéké, which is a dish made from fermented cassava pulp that has been grated.
It resembles couscous and is served with a Maggi Cube, which is a Nigerian seasoning cube that you sprinkle on top of the attiéké and drizzle a bit of oil. Paired with fried tilapia fish, sambals, fried plantain and a side of finely chopped scotch bonnet chilli, it was beautifully presented and full of flavours.
I never thought that the sweetness of plantain will pair well with fish, let alone the sambal, but everything was just a perfect marriage and I was a fortune priestess to marry them in my mouth lol! It was absolutely delicious.
What do you like about African food?
The variety, taste, texture and more taste. One thing that I’ve learned through my interaction with my brothers and sisters from within the continent is the spirit of Ubuntu, giving and sharing.
When we sitting down enjoying the meal (no matter how big or small the food is), it will come in a bowl with rice/ attiéké / pounded yam serve with piece of chicken and a variety of fish and vegetables. We eat from one bowl sharing that piece of chicken/fish and vegetables.
There’s lots of laughter, we use our hands, right hand to be precise (well, we wash them first!).
Our food is packed with nutrition, organic ingredients are used, and it not just that you are eating food for the sake of eating, but it also has great health & healing benefits.
If a lot of people can give themselves a chance to explore these wonders that mama Africa has to offer, I swear they won’t go back. It is a pity that not much is said about authentic African cuisine, what we get is a European standard of what supposed to be African food and that is not right.
We need to take ownership and support those people who own restaurants that specialise in African cuisine.