The African Student Association’s annual Taste of Africa event was held on Oct. 29 in the Beck Rooms of the Walsh Library.
Nnamdi Ene, president of the African student association, stated that the main purpose of this event is to “bring African culture to the Seton Hall population through food and show them a side of Africa that they might not get to experience otherwise.”
The event took approximately three weeks to plan. Despite the planning of the full event being relatively easy and only taking one day, sorting out official documentation regarding budgeting took three weeks, as the approval and forms process through the GDS is usually slow.
The ASA was split into different groups in order to make the planning process for the event easier. There were two main groups, the first being logistics coordinators, which had to select an appropriate date, time as well as location for the event and the cuisines that would be displayed. The second organization was in charge of attracting as many students as possible to the event.
The club presented 13 different cuisines all from different African restaurants, including Odabro, which is in Bloomfield, Ghanaian Way, which is in Newark, and Café Mobay.
The cuisines included dishes such as Pho Pho, which is similar to mashed potatoes but more firm and is meant to be rolled and dipped into soup. Another dish that was also popular was the meat pie, which is very similar to the Spanish cuisine empanadas.
Jordan Peach, a freshman majoring in business, said that, “Just being able to discuss the dishes with the club members was very eye opening. I feel like I learned a lot.”
President Ene wanted to ensure that the club was providing an authentic taste of Africa, rather than providing cuisine similar to American dishes.
Ene feels that, “African culture is not something that is readily available, especially in the United States and on the Seton Hall campus. Most Africans tend to shy away from their identities.” He felt that such an event would not only attract and educate students for different ethnicities, but also allow other Africans to appreciate their culture and remember their origins.
The most popular dish that was presented in the event was the Jollof rice. This is traditionally a dish that can be traced back to Nigeria and Ghana. It is usually cooked in red sauce and tinged with an orange color from tomatoes, onions and chilies cooked until the sauce bubbles and creates a glaze.
Despite all the differing recipes based on the African country, the common elements of tomato, onion and peppers remain consistent throughout.
Marianne Carr, a freshman majoring in psychology, said that she thoroughly enjoyed the event and that it was a very, “eye-opening experience, it was very entertaining being exposed to a new culture and obviously the free food was a bonus! My favorite dish would definitely have to be the Jollof rice, even though I could only eat a little because of how spicy it was!”
One of her friends that attended the event with was Chloe Burke, also a freshman and psychology major. Burke said that, “I really enjoyed the food and going with my friends. A lot of the dishes were new to me I had never heard of them before, so it was cool to see and be exposed to that type of culture.”
Nora El Houssini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.