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I recently visited Accra, Ghana in West Africa. I live in Lusaka, Zambia which is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, so I was excited about my first ever visit to West Africa.

Being a foodie, I was excited to taste different foods and experience the different cultures and I was not disappointed.

Zambia being landlocked, did not really take part in the spice trade with the Arabs and Europeans and most tribes were nomadic in nature as they were running away from various wars around Africa and finally settled in Zambia so our local foods do not have many additional spices. Others would argue that our local food is so full of natural flavours that there is no need to add spices to the food. So, with that in mind, my palate was a bit taken aback by the generous amounts of pepe (chilli) in every meal that I ate. I literally had to have a bottle of water next to me at mealtimes.

First night in Accra, we were hosted by Sierra Leone Chef Binta who specializes in Nubian Fulani cuisine and is known for her ‘dine on a mat’ food experience.  What I love most about African cuisine are the stories that go with each dish and how our ancestors came up with the different recipes and decided what is edible and what isn’t.  The Fulani tribe in west Africa are nomads so of course, each dish had lots of stories to keep us entertained throughout the dinner. As an African, experiencing a different African culture, it was interesting to see how we are so similar in our cultures but yet so different. 

Our first course was Kuti (which is fried cassava balls) with a chilli powder. For our main dish, we had Maffe Tigga (which is lamb cooked in peanut sauce with rice, sweet potatoes, okra and garden eggs). In Zambia, garden eggs are a large part of our local cuisine and referred to as Impwa. We usually serve it mixed with other green leafy vegetables with nshima (which is like fufu, banku or kenke but made from pounded maize meal or cassava) and a protein dish to complete the meal.   For dessert, we had millet in sour milk. What amazes me is the fact that most ingredients used in the meal we ate are all readily available in Zambia, but we would never cook up recipes like that in our local cuisine.

Our host, Chef Binta, told us the stories surrounding the food we ate, and how according to Fulani tradition, you can only eat with your right hand.  For the main dish, all the food is dished out into one big plate and everyone eats together.  You have to eat the food with your right hand while holding the plate with your left hand. As with most African traditions, elders get to eat most of the meat and it is very bad manners to leave unfinished food on the plate. Everything must be eaten.  I am glad our host didn’t take offense when we didn’t finish the food, as we were all still shocked with the generous portions of Jollof rice we had been served at lunch at a popular restaurant in Accra.

After such a delicious meal, I will be sure to go out and buy ingredients to share these exciting new west African recipes with my friends back in Lusaka. My favourite food on this trip has definitely been fried plantain – something else that I will introduce to my Zambian friends. After a lot of research on the fried plantain, I discovered that it is a favourite dish in most parts of the world like north and south America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe. Great to know that African cuisine has made its way across the world. In Zambia, our climate is similar to West Africa but the plantain doesn’t grow as big. Let’s see how we could make some Zambian fusion cuisine with West African influences.

I got to try out Ghanaian jollof rice, fufu, okra soup, banku and a local drink that became my favourite – bissa or sobolo (made from hibiscus and ginger). It is really tasty and nutritious and will definitely make its way onto the African Sunsets Restaurant menu.

With all the wonderful west African food I got to try, I was glad I also got to showcase some Zambian cuisine at the indigenous TV show launch.  Indigenous is a TV show about African cuisine and the effects of westernization and climate change which begins to air in Ghana. It’s made interesting by the interactions with the different chefs from across Africa and the recipes they share.

On the Zambian food menu, we had:

Vinkubala- (which is our local caterpillars sometimes referred to as Mopani worms in other Southern African countries). This is a Zambian delicacy, and can be eaten as a snack or served with nshima and vegetables.

Chikanda – which tastes and looks like meat and is affectionately referred to as African polony. It is made from the chikanda plant, which is a tuber which is washed and dried and pounded into powder form. It is then cooked together with pounded groundnuts and is on the fire until it is hard. It is left to cool and cut up into pieces to be served as a snack. It is perfect for vegetarians who still want to feel like they are eating meat. I still wonder what on earth our ancestors were doing when they discovered chikanda mixed with groundnuts made a delicious snack!

I also served Lumanda in peanut sauce or visashi as we call it in our local language.  Lumanda is actually a weed that grows wild in most parts of Zambia and can be cooked in vegetable oil or peanut sauce.  Most of the west African dishes can easily be made in any part of Africa as ingredients are so readily available across the continent.  I think we need more of these cultural and food exchanges within different African countries just to showcase how diverse and at the same time similar, we actually are. If we are ever going to get our indigenous food out into the world and recognized as potential five-star cuisine, we need to band together to market our food and culture.

My trip to Accra was fun, delicious and exciting.  I met some wonderful people and the ocean air was just what this girl from a landlocked country needed. Learning about the history of the Ghanaians and seeing how entrepreneurial they are even in their packaging and exporting of black soap and shea butter, gave me inspiration on how we all as Africans need to export our local food and culture around the world.

 

By Abigail Mbuzi
Mastercook Zambia

 

 

 

Chamonix is a vibrant, edgy town known as both a world-class ski resort and a mountaineering destination. Situated in the Haute-Savoie region of eastern France, Chamonix is bordered by Switzerland and Italy and dominated by the incredible Aiguilles de Chamonix mountain chain which peaks at the top of Mont Blanc (4810m).

With these vast, jagged mountains towering over the town, the scenery is arguably the most spectacular in the French Alps. The snow-capped peaks soar into the bright blue sky, ancient glaciers sweep down towards the valley floor and waterfalls cascade through pine-covered hillsides. Old rustic farmhouses and barns can be found in the Alpine meadows, whilst new luxury chalets stake claim to the best locations on the valley floor. Take in the views from Chamonix itself or ride the cable car up to the top of the Aiguille du Midi peak at 3842 metres. Pretty mountain huts only accessible by foot are hidden along the mountain trails providing welcome refreshment stops for hikers and often offer the best views around. The natural beauty of this valley is the main draw for those who love the outdoors whether you be a skier, a mountaineer, a hiker or a sightseer. There is a real international feel to the place, not just from tourists, but from individuals and families who have decided to settle here from all over the world. Come and find out why!

Skiing in Chamonix

Chamonix is most famous as a ski destination. It has five separate ski areas spread above the 20km of valley floor that provide terrain for skiers of all levels, from beginner to advanced. The skiing is often talked about as ‘challenging’, this is because 70% of the pistes are classified as red or black as they tend to be long and steep descents.

However, each of the ski areas has nursery slopes and blue pistes that will keep beginners happy for their week’s holiday. The high altitude of the skiing (most pistes are over 2000m) means that snow is assured through to the end of April. In addition, there is an incredible amount of off-piste and ski touring terrain that draws experienced skiers and snowboarders from all around the world.

Sights & Attractions in Chamonix

The main attraction that brings tourists to this picturesque town is Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe at 4810m.

Visitors either come to reach the summit themselves, view it from the station at the top of the Aiguille du Midi cable car (3842m) which also enjoys spectacular views of the Mont Blanc range, or take it in from the valley floor. At the top of the Aiguille du Midi, you’ll find “Step into the Void”, one of Chamonix’s most recently added attractions. You literally step into a glass-sided box with views of Mont Blanc to your left and a 1000 metre drop under your feet.

Another hugely popular place to visit is the Mer de Glace glacier (the “Sea of ice”) which is accessed by the Montenvers train. From the top, you can descend to an ice cave excavated into the glacier via a cable car and a series of walkways and steps. Markers along the rock walls on the descent show you just how much the glacier has retreated in recent years.

You can also take the Tramway du Mont Blanc from Les Houches down into the neighbouring town of St Gervais and back again up to the Nid d’Aigle (2372m). Many mountaineers use this as the start of their access to routes up Mont Blanc but it’s even more popular with hikers and sightseers in the summer months.

Events in Chamonix

Chamonix hosts a wide range of sporting events throughout the year. The biggest ones include the Freeride World Tour in January where you can see pro skiers and snowboarders making extreme tracks down the mountain, the various Mont Blanc Marathons in June, the World Climbing Festival in July and the UTMB trail running race in August.

It’s not all about sport though, Chamonix also has a strong music tradition. The lively Fete de la Music takes place on 21st June every year where dancing in the streets until the small hours is standard – even if it rains. The Cosmo Jazz Festival at the end of sunny July has venues in different mountain locations as well as the town centre (all concerts are free) and Black Crow’s ski and music event, Chamonix Unlimited, takes place in March.

Things to Do in Chamonix

Many visitors come to Chamonix simply to admire the scenery. Nevertheless, a big draw is to take part in one of the many adventure sports that are available, or even one of the many sports endurance races/events organized each year. The resort is open and busy all year round, including the lifts, which makes Chamonix a fairly unique destination in the French Alps. Apart from the big draw of alpine sports, the area has a number of more leisurely pursuits, including forested trails, adventure playgrounds for kids, shopping & markets, and a number of spa facilities where you can enjoy a well-earned rest at the end of an activity-packed day. There’s so much to do here you’ll have to read our guide, as a summary introduction just can’t cover it!

Restaurants in Chamonix

Chamonix is a town inhabited by and visited by a large international community and its cuisine reflects that. As well as the much-loved fondue, raclette and traditional French restaurants, you’ll also find Indian, Scandinavian, Chinese and fusion cuisine on offer. There are plenty of restaurants in Chamonix, most on the valley floor, but also a good selection at altitude which you can access by the ski or summer lifts. Many of these mountain restaurants offer spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

Nightlife in Chamonix

The Chamonix valley offers visitors a range of nightlife from live bands, boisterous après ski parties and nightclubs to more sedate jazz nights, the occasional music festival and film nights. In the centre of Chamonix, you’ll find the broadest selection of things to do, with each of the villages along the length of the valley offering their own unique selection of nightlife.

Where to Stay in Chamonix

There is a vast selection of accommodation, covering all budgets from hostels to luxury chalets. There are very few ski-in and ski-out properties because of the low altitude of the valley in comparison to the high-altitude skiing but you can find some in Les Houches, Chamonix and Le Tour. Many hotels and apartment rentals have a flexible approach to holiday bookings so you don’t need to be tied to a traditional Saturday to Saturday, seven-day holiday.

Chamonix is more than just a ski resort, it’s the beating heart of the valley. This is the place to stay if you are looking for the biggest selection of accommodation, shops, restaurants and nightlife. There are two lift stations in the town, the Aiguille du Midi cable car (for views and the off-piste ski route La Vallee Blanche) and the Brevent gondola (for sunny skiing suitable for all abilities).

Argentiere & Les Praz

The smaller, more traditionally Alpine villages of Les Praz and Argentiere lie further up the valley. Les Praz is served by the Flegere cable car, taking you to a beautiful ski area suitable for all abilities. It’s also where you will find the golf course. Argentiere is a lovely village with a good selection of accommodation, bars and restaurants and is right next to the Grands Montets ski area. This is where to come if you want challenging skiing as it’s renowned for its steepness and long descents. It’s also north facing, and so holds on to the best snow all the way through to May.

Les Houches

Les Houches is a larger village just below Chamonix with its own ski area. It’s a pretty town and the ski area is a favourite with families thanks to its mix of pistes and kid’s play areas. Chalet holidays are popular here, with many companies offering minibus services so you can also explore the rest of Chamonix’s skiing area.

Servoz, Les Bossons, Les Tines and Montroc are quieter hamlets, dotted along the valley, where you will need to take a bus/train or drive to the slopes.

Where is Chamonix?

Chamonix is situated in the French Alps, at the foot of the Mont Blanc. The resort is nestled up against the border of Italy and Switzerland, giving access to three countries (sometimes within the same day!).

It takes a little over an hour to get here from the nearest airport at Geneva, making it a popular destination for quick weekends away and short trips. Its location and accessibility to neighbouring countries make it a great destination for people touring through Europe in summer as well as to ski the varied terrain in winter. A 15-minute drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel will take you to Italy, and the Swiss border is a 30-minute drive if you continue on up the valley.

So, if you are planning a trip this holiday, you should consider Chamonix.

Events are a reason for people to come together and celebrate; people either celebrate progress or in remembrance of past experiences, usually held on a yearly basis. This gives attendees ample time to prepare and come with their best at the next edition.

One of such annual events is the Winter Light Festival. This event is usually organized by different cultures in different parts of the world. The winter light festival is always celebrated to mark the end of the winter and beginning of the light season. Most times the event is marked with a huge showcase of art, workshops, light designs, live music, and street food.

At the earlier times of this celebration, it was revered as a religious and spiritual gathering to celebrate the end of a dark period in a year and the beginning of the days of light. It was celebrated as a moment of rebirth of the spirit and mind, with each religion celebrating it differently.

In the Hindu religion, the essence of light is symbolized with equating everything in existence with a divine quality as well as the illumination of the mind. While in Judaism, light is signified as a symbol of the good and beautiful and is seen as an emanation of a different essence from the other side of reality. The Judaists mostly celebrate the Hanukkah as the principal festival of light. For the Buddhists, light is seen as the presence of God within all human and the wisdom that dispels ignorance.

In celebrating the winter light festival, the Nabana no Sato festival held in the Mie Prefecture, Japan is usually the best display of winter illumination that can be seen across the country. The Nabana no Sato is a park that is entirely dedicated to flowers and is located on the island of Nagashima in Kuwana City. The park is famous for its seasonal flower shows which takes place all year round with the winter light festival being held generally from the end of October to the end of March in the next year. This year, the Winter Light Festival in Nabana no Sato will take place from October 25, 2018, to March 31, 2019. This means that the sight can also be enjoyed during the month of February which is the month of and a good sport for couples to hang out.

The Nabana no Sato is a botanical theme park which features carefully planned landscape gardens and impressive giant greenhouses. During the spring, the park is decorated with an array of colourful flowers, blossoms, and cherry trees, including multiple rows of tulips, pansies, viola, stock, and daisies.

In celebrating the winter light festival, the park is beautifully illuminated with over eight (8) million LED lights and turning it to a sight straight out of a fairy tale. Usually, the theme of the display changes yearly and also has also featured spectacular LED-illuminated models of objects in nature like Mount Fuji, the Niagara Falls, the Swiss Alps, Northern Europe Aurora’s show model, and the Kumamon, which is depicted by a black bear, Kumamoto Prefecture’s superstar mascot. The light bulbs are always charged via solar panels to reduce the impact on the environment since they will be on for a particularly long period of time.

One breathtaking part of this festival is the 200-meter-long light tunnel that is usually covered with over 1.2 million light bulbs. The bulbs will represent a tiny flower and together, the lights draw a beautiful part along the park. The park has also added recently the Kawazu Sakura light tunnel which 100-metre-long with around seven hundred thousand pink LED bulbs to resemble the Kawazu cherry tree. This tunnel has become especially popular with the couples that come for the winter light festival.

The fragrance of the flowers mingles with the cold winter air as visitors walk and enjoy the famous Tunnel of Lights which will always be accompanied with elegant light shows and designs that blanket the entirety of the theme park and its waters.

Now, because there is obviously going to be a lot of walking to admire the sight of the park, there is an Ashiyu foot bath (a Japanese public bath in which people can bathe their feet) available for visitors to use free of charge. The spa is made from a contained underground natural spring.

The winter light festival in Nabana no Sato provides visitors with the right ambiance to truly appreciate nature as well as enjoy the comfort and company of their loved ones. While the garden is open all year round to visitors, visiting the garden during the winter festival will truly give you the most breathtaking sight have ever seen.

Usually, for someone who is particularly scared of spicy food, when you go through a restaurant’s menu and you notice some meal selection with a good amount of spiciness to it, you are quick to avoid them and move on the next sweet and savory selection.

While food with a lot of spicy in it may not be for everyone, it is advisable that you try it once in a while. You may not build the tolerance to munch on some raw pepper, but you might be helping your body to remain healthy. One of the main ingredients for our meal today is the Chili Pepper.

Chili pepper, while a hot spice also contains a rich amount of capsaicin (gotten from Capsanthin, which gives its red colour), which serves as an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. This very small sauce has been known to be a major ingredient in treating inflammatory diseases and cancer.

This very interesting benefit of chili pepper is not the only one that can be derived from it, as it also helps to build immunity in the body; the beta-carotene contained in chili pepper can be converted into vitamin A (gotten from the Lutein in it) which is essential for good eyesight and developing membranes to fight against pathogens. Vitamin C is also another vitamin that can be gotten from chili pepper to help increase the white blood cells and fight germs.

Other benefits of chili pepper are; reduction of insulin levels, relief of congestion and prevention against sinusitis, it also keeps the good old ticker ticking.

In parts of Asia, especially Indonesia, the Sambal is a paste made from mixing a variety of chili peppers. Usually, this can be accompanied with secondary ingredients like shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, palm sugar, lime juice and rice vinegar.

The word “Sambal” has its origin from an Indonesian loanword of Javanese origin, Sambel and is a native in most Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Singapore dishes.

Sambal has many recipes that can be served with other dishes as a hot and spicy condiment. Since not too many people are comfortable with eating spicy food, the Sambal has gone through variations over the years and different recipes with ranging consistency have been developed. They could either be mild, hot or extra hot (for the adventurous ones).

Preparing the Sambal is an easy straightforward process that can either be gotten off the shelf or prepared traditionally with a stone pestle and mortar. You just need all your ingredients and then grind it up all into a paste and you are good to go. Based on how you like your Sambal, it can be served either raw or cooked.

Since chili pepper is one of the main ingredients in making the Sambal, some of the most common varieties of chili pepper used in preparing it are:

  • Habanera: also known as Adyuma and can be identified with yellow colour and block shape.
  • Cayenne pepper: this pepper is red, shiny and has an elongated shape.
  • Madame Jeanette: also, an elongated pepper with a yellow-light green colour and irregular shape.
  • Bird’s eye chili pepper: is green-red in colour and very spicy.
  • Chili pepper: also, green-red in colour but has a mild spiciness. It is important to note that the green chili peppers are milder than the red ones.
  • Cabe taliwang: much spicier than the Bird’s eye chili, the Lombok Island or “the Island of Chili” supposedly derives its name from it.

So, while you might want a glass or two of water beside you, or maybe even a jug, having a bit of spicy chili or just the mild ones can be good for your health.

For a healthy life, go Chili

When getting your meal ready for either breakfast, lunch or dinner, we are always so excited to dish the food and sit down to enjoy a good meal. Maybe because of the excitement and thrill that comes with having a meal that tastes deliciously divine, or maybe some other factor, it does not change the fact that meal time is usually a happy time for most people.

Most times when we eat, food enthusiasts and health lifestyle coaches will always encourage one to eat a balanced diet. Give each meal in the day the right proportions of nutrient needed by your body to keep you healthy and fit.

This is usually not because they want to control how you eat (well, they are helping you control how you eat), instead it is because they want to you eat in portions that are healthy for you.

Remember; Too much is Bad, too little is not enough!

Take carbohydrates, for instance, we know how important it is in providing the body with the energy it needs to help us work through the day. The glucose released by the carbohydrates give us the push to work, it is almost like we are batteries and the glucose is what keeps us charged and functioning.

Usually, you can feel a bit dizzy or nauseous when you do not have the right amount of glucose coursing through your body and in some severe cases end up fainting. Therefore, we are always encouraged to take in as many carbohydrates as our body needs.

Now, recall we did mention that “too much” can be bad for your health and this also applies to carbohydrates too. As much as you would need to keep your energy supply to your body by taking in carbohydrates, taking in too much carbohydrates can also stand to have an adverse effect on your body.

An excess amount of carbohydrates in your meal allocations can take a shocking turn in your growth. Experts suggest that, excess carbohydrates in your meal pattern can stunt your growth.

This happens because the excess carbs in your body produce more glucose which raises your insulin level to a point where it hinders your growth hormones from functioning properly. With the growth hormones not secreting enough hormones into the body required for growth, you might find yourself not growing as tall as you would want and reaching that top shelf.

In order to maintain the right height needed for you or be of a height that you are comfortable with, it is essential that the right proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutrients in meal rations be put on your plate – A balanced diet.

The carbohydrates will provide your body with the energy it needs on a daily basis while the protein will ensure that your growth hormones are functioning accordingly, assisting your growing up to be tall and strong. Now, do not forget; there are still a few downsides to having too much protein released into your body just because you hope to one day play for the national basketball team, so ensure to always keep your meals balanced. Always have a good mix of all the food groups, this will ensure that you grow and live healthily.

Note that food high in saturated fats may also contribute to you not getting as tall as you want, plus they are rich in cholesterol which is nowhere good for your heart.

So, eating right and making sure you exercise daily is the surest way for you to be healthy and live a happy life.

 

For every tourist travelling to a new destination, shopping for souvenirs and keepsakes can serve as a way to preserve the experiences and memories of that trip. Shopping in a country like Vietnam provides tourists with a lot of exciting choices at very affordable prices.  

Travelers with a very strict budget can still enjoy the thrills of shopping while in Vietnam as prices can be bargained (let’s face it, bargaining is part of the purchase) to a less than a third of the original price. Shopping is just interesting.  

The shopping markets in the country provide the tourist with access to an endless array of bespoke garments tailored to suit each person’s style and requirements. The quality and variations of clothing materials that can be gotten in Vietnam are endless especially the national dress of Vietnam, the “Ao Dai” gotten from high-quality silk can as well be acquired.  

While everyone needs to shop for new materials to sew their clothes, the local handcraft, art, and jewelry in the Vietnamese markets are exquisitely stunning and can be used to for very stylish home decorations or strike a pose during a gala.  

There are quite a large number of markets that can appeal to any traveler and fulfill their memory-storing needs, some of which are;  

 

  1. Ben Thanh Market:

The Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) is usually the best location for any tourist seeking an awesome collection of locally made handcrafts, branded goods, art and other items. Like any other market around, the Ben Thanh market is very large with the smell of freshly cooked wok-fried noodles, barbecued fish, and meat filling the air as the restaurants open up in the night. The atmosphere is rich with exciting stories of the Vietnamese culture.  

If you are looking to stock up on lacquer wares, bamboo goods, arts, and crafts; the early morning market is the best time for you to be on the streets of the Ben Thanh Market and get all the best bargain prices on every item. Although you might want to be prepared for the items with a fixed price, those come with a sort of permanent price tag.  

 

  1. Saigon Square Shopping Mall:

What can’t you get at Saigon Square Mall? Shirts, shoes, handbags, swimwear, jewelry, textile, accessories and every other fashion item! If you are looking for a drastic continental wardrobe improvement, the Saigon Square Shopping Mal is your best bet. Although the price tags are a bit inflated, that’s the beauty of it; bargaining is allowed, never just accept the opening bid. 

You might find some kind of confusion with the haphazard arrangement of the mall, but it gives you room to just stroll around till something you fancy catches your eyes. 

So, yes! For every clothing souvenir or gift, the two-leveled building of the Saigon Square Shopping Mall should be on your list of places to visit. 

 

 

  1. Hang Gai Street (Silk Street):

Everyone knows that silk materials are elegant and gives the wearer a very refined look, plus the colours of the silk materials are so bright and exciting that you just have to have one or two or maybe six materials in your collection.  

The 300-meter-long street is filled with boutiques, tailors, fashion and household stores with some stores providing tourists the opportunity to buy ready-to-wear attires. 

 

  1. VinhLuongMarket: 

This market is located near the NhaTrang Port, so you would expect the display of seafood as you come in the market. The display of fresh seafood, meat, and vegetables is truly a sight for tourists who fancy trying out new cuisines and cooking on their own. There are also a few snacks like the Bun Cha Sua (rice vermicelli, jellyfish, and steamed sailfish fillet in fish broth), Ban Xeo (Vietnamese pancakes), and BemNuong (grilled fermented pork roll) available in case you get hungry. In case, you are not much of a chef (no one is judging you), there are quite a number of seafood restaurants to satisfy your food needs. 

 

  1. An Dong Market (Craft Market):

The awesome fact about shopping in Vietnam is that you can never run of shops to buy clothes and crafts. Every street, the market is riddled with stalls and shops selling a wide variety of items to fit your needs and budget.  

 

The An Dong Market is no exception, famous for its handicrafts and skilled artisans; you can experience firsthand the proud heritage of Vietnam as they work on the lacquer wares and woodwork. 

 

Jewelry made from gemstones like amethyst and jade are usually the appeal of the eyes as tourist move through the An Dong Market, plus the authenticity of these handcrafted designs are always spectacular. 

 

Food is also relatively cheap in this market where you can always get MiQuang (turmeric noodles) at any time of the day. And as always with most markets in Vietnam, bargaining is allowed. 

 

By: Abigail Mbuzi

Guide Michelin, as they are known in French, are a series of guidebooks that have been published by the French tire company, Michelin, for more than a century.  The guide is the oldest European hotel and restaurant reference guide, which awards Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments.  The acquisition or loss of a star can have dramatic effects on the success of a restaurant.  When a Michelin inspector comes to your restaurant, he is entirely anonymous and will give a detailed report on the food, hygiene, and service received at your establishment. Receiving a Michelin star is the greatest honour given to a chef or restaurateur in his lifetime.  In France, where the guide was first published, each year at the time of publishing, it sparks a media frenzy which has been compared to that of the Oscars or the Grammys.   Celebrity Chefs such as Gordon Ramsey have owned restaurants that in the recent past had been awarded and then stripped of two Michelin stars for quality issues, by the committee that sits to award the stars. It was later argued that Mr. Ramsey was not involved in the day to day running of the restaurant as he had licensed it to the London Hotel at the time of the controversy. But such incidences just go to show how prestigious a Michelin star rating really is.

France is known as the Culinary Centre of the world and in the early 1900s, two brothers; Edouard and Andre Michelin while travelling the country selling tires, decided to publish the first edition of a guide for French motorists – the Michelin Guide. The guide was free and provided useful information to motorists, such as maps, tire repairs, car mechanics listings, hotels and petrol stations throughout France.  Over the years, the guide went on to include other countries and a restaurant section.  The brothers recruited a team of anonymous inspectors to visit and review restaurants. In 1926, the guide began to award stars for fine dining establishments with a hierarchy from 0 to 3 stars.

1 – Being very good.

2 – Being excellent cooking, worth a detour.

 3 – Exceptional cuisine worth a special journey. 

The Michelin guide also awards rising stars, an indication that a restaurant has the potential to qualify for a star or an additional star. Restaurants that inspectors fail are not worthy, don’t even make it into the guide, let alone receive a star.

The guide has covered most of Europe over the years, giving out stars in France, Italy, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, and Portugal.  Only as late as 2005 did Michelin produce its first American guide and in 2007 crossed into Asia with a Tokyo guide. 

Moving with the times, the guide has a listing for Gastropubs in Ireland, Street food establishments in Asia. But surprisingly, to date, No African Cuisine restaurant in Africa or anywhere else in the world has managed to impress the Michelin Inspectors enough to be given a star.  The closest Africa has gotten to being awarded a Michelin star, is through South African Chef – Jan Hendrik Van Der Westhuizen.  He owns a restaurant called ‘Jan’ in Nice, France, which combines French and South Africa cooking. 

So what is happening to local African cuisine? From Cape to Cairo, all across Africa, our local cuisine is fresh, organic and deliciously served in the most ingenious ways.  What needs to be done to get the global foodie’s community interested in our local cuisine? Africa, particularly Zambia, is bursting with talent in the culinary industry and we are looking for ways to put our local food on the world map. As African Chefs, we would love to see authentic African food being awarded worldwide recognition. We have plenty of skilled and talented chefs that can turn our local fusion cuisine into fine dining menus.

Isn’t it time a truly authentic, African food restaurant was awarded a Michelin star?

In my next article, I will look at the factors considered in awarding Michelin stars and include reviews of some of Africa’s best restaurants to compare and contrast.  Do you know of an African food restaurant that you think deserves a Michelin star?  Contact me and let’s talk and get their story across the globe. You never know who is listening……

Have some new food ideas/recipes or new restaurants/events you would like to share? Let’s interact, email me on Abigail.Mbuzi@gmail.com and let’s talk all things food.

About the author: Abigail Mbuzi is a foodie. Founder and Motivator, she runs African Sunsets Events, marketing, and promotions and is Creator and Executive Producer of the MastercookTv shows, Editor in Chief of the Mastercook recipe magazine and teaches cooking classes for kids and adults at the Mastercook academy in Lusaka, Zambia.

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