African food is widely available in London and Paris with their large African populations and historic ties to the continent. Peter Okwoche, a self-confessed gourmet and BBC presenter from Nigeria, has been finding out if it has a wider appeal.Living in London, it is not too hard to sate my hunger for a taste of home as markets selling African food dot the city. There are also a lot of Nigerian restaurants, but they are mainly filled with Nigerians – other Africans may also be tucking in, but hardly any Europeans. London is a bustling cosmopolitan city where, according to Mayor Boris Johnson, more than 300 languages are spoken – that is at least 300 different cultures. But while cuisines from countries like China, India and Thailand have become very popular, the same cannot be said about African food. So why hasn’t African gastronomy caught on? Perhaps in these days of healthy eating – a particular obsession of the European press – African food is seen as containing too much oil or carbohydrates or not enough protein. But London-based Ghanaian cook Fafa Gilbert, who teaches people how to make Africa food with a European twist on her YouTube channel, could not disagree more.
An avid experimenter, she believes there are lots of healthy African food dishes that have a wide appeal. The whole ground floor of her home has been turned into a massive, elegant and modern kitchen. In one corner there is a computer where she writes down all the recipes that she comes up with. “This is where I feel truly feel free,” she says. [caption id="attachment_23130" align="alignright" width="300"] West Africans can get touchy about changing the recipe of jollof rice[/caption] When we visit, she is making a dish called “yam croquette”, which sounds more French than Ghanaian. The main ingredients of a croquette – a fried bread-crumbed roll served as delicacy or a fast food – are usually mashed potatoes and/or ground meat. Ms Gilbert replaces the potatoes with yams – and serves it with a light stew made with tomatoes and traditional Ghanaian seasoning. It is brilliant and my cameraman, who is English and has never tried any African food before, was immediately hooked.Other popular foreign cuisines have evolved to cater for European palates – take tikka masala curry, which was invented in the UK. More European-based African cooks now seem to be trying to please a more diverse crowd. The Blue Nile website emphasises the gluten-free aspect of its menu and its “wide range of vegetarian dishes”. “Last week, we had some costumers from Iceland and also from Sweden and different nationalities and it’s nice,” says Ms Shewa. *BBC]]>