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A taste of Nigeria – Inspiring Nigerian culture

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Isi Ewu. Photo: Food Pam Food Recipe Collections

Sir: There is a misconception that culture is being lost to modernisation. We never lose our culture. It just advances with social and technological evolution. Our culture defines who we are as a people and inspires others to understand us better.  Our characteristics and knowledge as a people is visible through our language, religion, social habits, music, art and food.

Sharing a meal is one of the ways of sharing culture with people from different backgrounds. Many eventful moments occur during meal-time gatherings and cooking as a family or with friends and loved ones. As much as we enjoy moments spent together, being able to make a dish that will be shared by people holds a truth that is universal. The tradition of passing down recipes from parents to kids is a special way of sharing that reinforces the legacy of families. All over the world, mothers passing down recipes is one of the oldest traditions. Parents sharing a traditional recipe for a meal with their children builds cultural identity. The consistency of passing down traditions such as meal recipes has the ability to strengthen the cultural fabric of societies.

In today’s world, the advent of the internet, social media, websites and blogs have all facilitated in sharing food content and making it even more accessible.  These days, with social feeds containing lots of food photos, food selfies, communities for food lovers to share and promote food photos and food bloggers making a big impact on home cooking, it is important that Nigerian cuisine also takes to the online stage.  Passing down food culture is important among Nigerian families. Indigenes from different geographical regions in Nigeria take great pride in the ownership of dishes that originated from their locality. From Amala and Ewedu among the Western Region, to Miyan Karkashi and Tuwo Masara in the north-east and north central; starch and Banga soup from the Niger-Delta region to Fufu and Ofe Owerri, from the south-east region; the uniqueness of Nigerian indeginous meals need to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Google Arts & Culture, in collaboration with the Centenary Project at the Pan-Atlantic University recently ‘cooked’ up a project tagged, ‘Come Chop Bellefull: A Taste of Nigeria’ which pays tribute to Nigeria’s vibrant and diverse food culture. It is an online platform where the world can explore Nigerian regional cooking and culture through 2,000 high-resolution images and 30 stories. Visitors on the platform will find interesting local content like iconic meals from the different regions in Nigeria and how to prepare them, where to get the best ingredients, favourite appetizers, and Nigerian street food. There is no doubt that a need for the preservation and sharing of Nigerian culture exists. And it is through projects like ‘Come Chop Bellefull: A Taste of Nigeria,’ which educates and inspires food lovers around the world that this core essential of Nigerian living can be transferred and preserved for future generations.

Sisi Yemmie.


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