There's space for local, traditional cuisine in food art

Food as an art depends on how you connect, perceive and understand it

In Summary

• The thought process, growth, planning, cooking and presentation of food are an art 

• A lot of time and energy is put into connecting and creating a dish in remarkable way

A Swahili Wali na maharage dish
A Swahili Wali na maharage dish

It has taken me time to truly understand how food is art. 

Best believe, I can’t explain how different cuisines are pieces of art, but they are.

In any case, I know you would agree with me because you have seen individuals turn edibles to visual art. 

If you have watched the movie ‘The Menu’, then you know what I mean when I talk about food art. 

Chef Slowik invited guests to a private island and prepared a series of courses for them.

In the movie, he explains that each guest was invited because they contributed to him losing his passion for his craft or because they made a living by exploiting the work of food artisans like him.

I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun for anyone who enjoys an exciting thriller. 

If you are yet to watch the movie, this is your sign. 

I feel like the thought process, growth, planning, cooking and even the presentation of food make it art. 

A lot of time and energy is put into connecting and creating a dish.

However, just like the way a painting or moulding has its own story and is expressed in an artistic and different way, so is food. 

Art is expressed in so many ways, and art is everywhere. 

Food impacts our lives because it is how we survive. 

Each cuisine changes from one culture to another as food travels all over the world almost every day.

Food as an art depends on how you perceive and understand it.

On one hand, I don’t think meals like fast foods qualify as art, but on the other hand, we can call it “art-sharing”.

I have come across a lot of online arguments on whether replicating someone’s work qualifies as art. 

Feel free to judge for yourself.

Apart from the usual foreign cuisines we get to taste and devour, traditional African food is slowly being appreciated in many eatout spaces.

However, these different cultural delicacies are still not completely appreciated in urban spaces, and if they are, then the prices are crazy in restaurants nowadays.

Chefs are starting to embrace the different foods and making them more available on their menus, and it is something really nice to see.

Cooking greens in a traditional clay pot and serving straight from the same pot shows that even if modernisation is still in play, there is an artistic way in which we appreciate our traditional meals.

It makes it unique and it's one way we can relate food to art.

Hilda Baci, a Nigerian female chef, recently made headlines for breaking a world record for the longest cooking time held by an individual.

While at it, Baci was cooking a variety of delicacies, some of which were Nigerian, and fans came out to support her as well as get to eat her food, which was given out for free.

Our very own Mombasa-based chef Maliha Mohammed broke the Guinness World Record for the longest time spent cooking.

She cooked for 75 hours nonstop, having prepared a list of 400 recipes of local Swahili and international cuisines.

Despite being in a race to beat previously set records, these two women celebrated their local delicacies in separate cookathons.

They expressed themselves through the different dishes, and I would love to believe every dish had a story.

It would be fun to see more African chef artisans expressing themselves through food art.

Come up with creative ways to showcase local traditional cuisine in an artistic way.

Create a series of courses for African food.

Let that be a menu of the day in that eatout joint, and make the pricing pocket-friendly.

We are so accustomed to Western food art that we see even on international cooking TV shows.

We can let the audience connect with our local food in an artistic way and enjoy every bit of it while at it.

A lot can be learnt about our different cultural identities through the food we eat.

Let that plate be colourful and carry meaning.

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