Kitchen talk Travelling Kitchen with Food Explorer Ozoz Sokoh

Travelling Kitchen with Food Explorer Ozoz Sokoh © EL BOUM
With Ozoz Sokoh (food explorer, Lagos), Luciana Santos dos Reis (PhD Student and Translator, Salvador)

As a “kitchen traveller”, Ozoz Sokoh is tracking down the links between food cultures in different countries. At the Latitude festival she’s cooking Nigerian Akara and Brazilian Acarajé (bean fritters), as well as opening up perspectives on (inter)cultural practices, history and Sokoh’s own experiences. What influences helped to shape these foods? What can they tell us about (de)colonial entanglements? The recipes are available in advance.

Statement Ozoz Sokoh:
When I discovered Acarajé in 2009 - I was homesick and living abroad. I immediately understood its importance and relevance in Brazilian cuisine as a cultural anchor, I understood holding on the home in a foreign land. In Nigeria, I'd only encountered Akara in its daily form - without reverence. This struck me - Akara is loved and Acarajé is treasured. I see the role remembering plays in making it live on, I see how home is carried in this fritter, identities shaped, culture honoured. I see food that not only nourishes the body but soothes the soul in spite of its tragic, tortured beginnings on the seas of slavery. I'm thankful that this fritter has been a beacon for me, opening my eyes to all the ways home exists, in spite of where we are. Roberto da Matta is quoted as saying in the book, Black Milk: Imagining Slavery in the Visual Cultures of Brazil and America: “Sanduíche é alimenta; Acarajé é comida”, which translates as “The sandwich is grub, the Acarajé is soul food”. 
Statement Luciana Reis
Talking about Acarajé to us Black Brazilian women, is much more than talking about a delicacy. It is talking about the existing ties between Brazil and Africa and also about the secular strategies that Black women have used to keep their cultural and religious traditions alive. In addition, the sale of acarajé is one of several ways of generating work and income for Black families and communities. Thus, in order to legitimize the importance not only of acarajé, but also of the Baianas of Acarajé, there is an effort by the National Association of Baianas de Acarajé  and Porridge Vendors (ABAM) to recognize this craft / heritage practice of Baianas de Acarajé as Salvador exemplars of Intangible Heritage. 

In English.