It is all cooked in a single pot with rice and a tomato-based stew plus preferred meat, fish or poultry — very popular in West Africa — and it’s called Jollof rice.
The tentacles of Jollof has spread beyond the borders of West Africa into all of Africa and thanks to emigration the star dish has successfully accomplished its global invasion in the world of culinary delicacies.
So, Washington DC will on July 2, 2017, set the ball rolling for the first ever Jollof Festival to be organized by Afropolitan Insights. The venue is 1630, 19th Street, North West in Washington DC from 2-8 PM.
Yes, Jollof is one of West Africa’s most beloved dishes and pretty easy to cook, well depending on where on the continent you picked up your Jollof-cooking skills. One thing remains certain though, the art of perfecting this delicacy has been a subject of debate for years. Ghanaians for example, claim to have the best Jollof while Nigerians beg to differ.
Who really owns Jollof?
Amidst all that debate that has fueled the Jollof wars on social media for years, some countries in the Senegambia region of Africa including Senegal, Gambia, Mali, and Mauritania have asked all to hush it up since they are the original inventors of the meal. Heck some of them even say the word Jolof itself is rooted in the Jolof Empire which is the successor to the Mali Empire where today’s Senegal stands in modern Africa.
See it however you want but one thing is for sure, Afropolitan Insights has set its sights on bringing all of Africa together under their Jollof Festival to celebrates the meal, the continent, and the respective cultures that are interwoven by the delicious string of Jollof.
Why a Jollof Festival
According to Afropolitan Insights “Jollof is a cheap and common dish people make on a massive scale. Our festival is simply a target of expressing rivalry between countries, in a good-natured way,” explains Ishmael Osekre, the Ghanaian-born, New York-based founder of the festival. “This is still a big thing in the emigre community. We decided to let people come in and compete in a healthy way, and to let everyone get a chance to enjoy the results.”
Osekre says interest in African cuisine as part of a growing fascination with the culture and style of the extremely diverse continent is what encouraged his team to create the event to provide Jollof masters and opportunity to face off, while visitors sample different versions of the dish and its accompanying sides.
“The sides really reflect the local flavors,” explains Osekre. “They showcase the ingredients and tastes from different parts of the continent.” The festival will feature vendors representing eight different countries, each with their own Jollof spin.
“In many ways, this simple rice dish is a mirror that reveals important parts of our lives, as Africans and people of the African diaspora,” muses Osekre. “I hope people of all backgrounds will come and taste and discover and just enjoy. Though of course, Ghanaian Jollof is the best.”
More at Jollof Festival
Chefs would be invited to come together and contest to determine whose Jollof rules, one of such would be Chef Francis Otoo, an executive chef at the Embassy of Ghana in Washington DC who is also going to be on the panel of judges for the event. Maame Boakye, Co-founder and Director of Event Production and Talent Management at Dine Diaspora is another judge.
Exciting experiences at the Jollof Festival will include Jollof vendors undertaking demos and Jollof wars, cultural performances, an Ankara Shop with readily available African fashion in forms of clothing, accessories, hair, body and skincare products and so on. Yes, there will be libations and it would be powered by Mixed Sips to gently push down your Jollof.
Osekre unveiled to TheAfricanDream.net that the Washington DC event is just the starter as Afropolitan Insights plans to take the festival to Brooklyn in New York, and Atlanta in Georgia. For now, the festival’s aim is to engage the buzzing African, Caribbean, and African-American food community through a celebratory delicacy — Jollof — in a friendly and pseudo-competitive atmosphere.
Find out more about Jollof Festival at www.JollofFestival.com and share your #JollofFestival experiences on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with @JollofFestival
Source: Oral Ofori / AfropolitanInsights.com
Oral Ofori is Founder and Publisher at www.TheAfricanDream.net, a digital storyteller and producer, and also an information and research consultant.