Amanda Adé on Jollof rice and African culture

If you ask Amanda Adé which Jollof rice she prefers – Ghanaian or Nigerian – she doesn’t hide her bias. “I’m going to be biased because I have Nigerian blood but from my experience I would also say that Nigerian jollof rice is so much better,” she laughs.

The traditional dish, where rice is cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and often served with chicken or some other type of meat, is what Amanda calls “the pinnacle of West African cuisine”, and is the subject of specialties. ‘a long rivalry.

If you’ve spent any time on TikTok, you are sure to have come across videos of white people cooking the dish and being playfully criticized by African or black TikTok users.

“Honestly, there’s really, really not much of a difference between the two. It’s just a matter of pride at this point. I would say the main difference is that they add veg with Ghanaian jollof, so they would add polka dots. I don’t understand that. “

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As the co-host of the Black and Irish podcast, food is one of the many areas of black and Irish identity that Amanda delves into, highlighting what it’s like to grow up in Ireland as a black or mixed race person.

Co-hosted by Boni Odoemene, Leon Diop and Femi Bankole, the podcast has grown steadily, exploring the unique values, cultural references, traditions and experiences of Blacks and Irish. Now in its second season, the podcast digs deeper, bringing you to their homes, as Amanda puts it.

“In African culture, there is a huge emphasis on food. I mean, it’s a massive, massive, massive part of life and a cultural identity,” she told me over the phone. “And it is also a thing for some parents, they feel a strong obligation to be able to pass it on to their children.”

Food carries history, she adds, saying, “You have to know your food, because certain foods are also linked to certain people. It is also linked to different tribes and different ethnic identities.”

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Food preparation is also a laborious task, with many of the most popular and important indigenous African dishes taking hours to prepare. Cooking for someone is therefore a huge undertaking and a huge display of care and affection. “It wouldn’t be a quick 10, 20 minute dinner!” Amanda laughs.

“If you cook African dishes like this, there are a lot of ingredients and it takes a long time. You have to get up early in the morning if you know you are cooking some dishes that take three, four hours.”

Food is also one of the many ways that African cultures and households open doors for newcomers, as these TikTok videos prove: at the end of the day, they’re just happy to see people trying to kiss. their culture.

“Particularly with West Africa, there is almost an embrace when people try to get involved in the culture as well,” Amanda says. “It’s a huge pride for them. It’s a very, very, very good welcome and open culture and community there.

“As long as he’s approached with, like, just genuine curiosity and also with a respect for himself, he’ll never be met with negativity.”

For Amanda, too, it’s a bridge between the branches of her family tree, as she is half Nigerian and half South African. So while on the one hand she was debating the merits of Nigerian Jollof rice versus Ghanaian rice, she was also learning how to make pap, boerewors and South African braai.

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African food is one of the easiest ways for those outside the communities to try and connect with it, it’s on TikTok, Instagram, in the recipes section of various magazines, but understanding the homes and African families demand a little more insider knowledge. This is where season two of the Black and Irish podcast really shines, as it places the listener in the middle of a heated conversation about African home and identity.

Amanda says her parents were more on the “liberal” side of the spectrum than some African parents, but there were still growing pains when raising both black and Irish children.

“For a lot of African parents, they really have a hard time because the way they grew up was completely different from the way we grew up. So there were also a lot of communication issues,” she says. “They didn’t understand us or we didn’t understand them.”

“They are Africans and they believe that because they are Africans their children are African. But to understand that their children do not really have the same identity as them. There is a whole other aspect of their identity. children that they must also try and navigate.

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“As much as they want to pass on their African cultures and values ​​and stuff like that, they also had to respect the fact that we are also quite Irish and I am not and am not bossy and and do not neglect that side of our identity and us. encourage adopting both. ”

For Amanda, this podcast fills a gap that she seems to have recognized growing up. Speaking of her hopes for the podcast, she says, “The main thing I realized growing up was that, at first, I didn’t even understand my culture.”

“I didn’t understand my identity, when I got to the age where I was starting to accept this and understand it myself, then I realized that other people didn’t understand the black community. And there is a lot. of negative perceptions just because people don’t know.

“So the main thing for me was to try to educate people and help people understand a little bit more about us and just to sort of kill this ignorance, by painting a clearer picture of who we are. and why we are the way we are. “

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