In an effort to promote Afro-ethnic cuisine as part of a cultural movement, I have discovered that its meaning is not as straightforward as I originally anticipated. Is there perhaps a tension between its inclusive nature and its underlying exclusiveness? If there is such a contrast, then it most certainly intrigues me.
The inclusiveness of “Afro-ethnic cuisine” speaks to its encompassing of all African-derived cuisine. Yet, the term implicitly reflects the distinct specialties of African-derived cuisines around the world. If we understand all of that, then why is it still so difficult for people to define and explain the term?
Over the past few weeks, I have encountered many people who struggled to define the term and engage it in conversations. After talking with a woman for about 20 minutes last week, she finally said: “I would hate to sound ignorant and clueless but what does Afro-ethnic cuisine mean?” … That was definitely one of those unexpected moments when I wondered whether I have just been engaging in a monologue without knowing it. Still, I must admit that I very much appreciated her honesty and her willingness to learn.
Others, however, pretended to understand what I was talking about but still had a blank stare in their eyes. I could tell that they found it cool and interesting to talk about Afro-ethnic cuisine, hoping and silently praying that: (1) I do not notice that they are clueless and that (2) they get to understand what it means as we move forward in the conversation. A few others would implicitly define the term in ways in which they could relate to it, making me realize that perhaps they missed the point!
No, “Afro-ethnic cuisine” is not just black cuisine! Although it encompasses it, it is not restricted to it. It transcends races and geographical boundaries because of the history behind it. Now you must probably think, “Are you finally going to tell us what it is, or are you going to keep playing the philosopher?” Well… I will not define the term for you, but I will leave you with these questions in mind.
Is “Afro-ethnic cuisine” a simple term that some people complicate or is it a complicated term that some people simplify? Whatever the case may be, I am curious to know: “Afro-ethnic cuisine: What does it mean to you anyway?”
Cet article rédigé par Jean-Gabriel Jemea Kuoh.
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