‘15/07/2021
Banji Chona:
I found a company in Zimbabwe, who are making burger patties out of these worms. So they dry them out, and then grind them to a pulp and make a burger patty. And it would be quite interesting to present this to people and say,
                            “Okay, would you like to try this piece of meat?”
and see what the reaction would be. Because with food, it's mostly about presentability, you know?

Beulah Ezeugo:
                            Yes.

Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu:
It's interesting that as human beings, we have these different kinds of foods that we all eat, like rice -
                     it’s abundant, almost everyone eats it, it’s proven to be healthy and has the right vitamins                         and minerals.
But, I was thinking about plants, and how... Well, I was thinking about what historical discovery processes were like. How many things had to be eaten before they realised what was okay? I think the question that I had was, I wonder if there are more plants to be discovered, on top of what we already have globally? And also just thinking nationally. Is there any more to be discovered here in Nigeria? I wonder what the process is, or what botanical societies or research labs are doing right now.

Beulah Ezeugo:
That's quite interesting to me, too. I was thinking of seed saving, how important it is as a practice and how many constraints there are for people who would like to save seeds. It makes me think that we're probably losing more than we're gaining. And then, when we are gaining new plant species, they're all genetically modified and patented, which is the dangerous thing, I guess... We have all of these resources, we can modify plants and create new versions that are more durable and nutritional, but then they're also patented by some corporations. It's sad that's the direction that we're going towards, instead of prioritising availability and abundance.

Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu:
I don't know a lot about Botanics but I mean, there's also all those scientific plant names, all chosen by whoever "discovered" them. You know whoever paired a Latin word with a Greek word, to form these really complicated, long names for very simple things. I've been thinking about this particular fruit that we eat here, it's called ‘udara’ and in another culture, it’s called ‘agbalumo’. And for a long time, people have been critiquing those who call it by its actual local names. You hear people saying
                                            “it's actually called an ‘African star apple’"
What does that even mean?

Beulah Ezeugo:
                            [Laughs]

Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu:
                Does it make you feel better now that it has an English name, you know? It's so crazy.

Beulah Ezeugo:
                                Right?

Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu:
Because it happens - even as a child, I was taught to embrace that the English version of anything was the right way or the more formal way of doing things. In school here, we had to eat with forks and knives, even for the meals that are supposed to be eaten with our hands. For my favourite meals, I have to use my hand and that's the way I like it. It definitely comes from external influences that disregard the history of the food in a particular place.

Beulah Ezeugo:
                        Yeah.

Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu:
That's why I like the chef "Kitchen Butterfly". She does active research to retain and document specifically Nigerian spices and meals. So that we don't miss the point or lose traditions to a different set of rules.

Beulah Ezeugo:
Yeah, I guess, in terms of your question of discovery, I feel like what we need is more like a rediscovery. In the sense that we have to re-root. You know, by remembering what plant species we've lost and the native names people have tried to erase. I'm wondering whether it's the same in Zambia?

Banji Chona:
Definitely. This links quite closely to what Yadi said about the use of knives and forks. So nshima is traditionally something that you would eat with your hands. And my granddad is somebody who was raised in the village, you know, at the core of it. I mean, throughout his life, he was very westernized, he went to university in England, lived there for a long time. And I find that there's this big contradiction that I see with him, because he's one of the more culturally rooted people that I know, in all other aspects. But he eats his nshima with a knife and a fork and this just doesn't make sense to me. I actually have never really asked him why so this is something that I might do - I'll hop on the phone with him and ask him why. It's always something I found so absurd. You know, that in all other ways, he's very rooted in his culture,
                          culinary culture,
                               sonic culture,
                                    like, everything you can think of.
Most of the things I know about Tonga culture, he taught me because he was born and raised in the middle of that, but I guess he found his adult self in a very westernized Zambia. And I guess that's something that's the same with quite a lot of other people who grew up in that time, like in the transition between Northern Rhodesia and Zambia. But yeah, that's one thing that came to mind when you mentioned Western influence on culinary culture. I mean, you also see that people now prefer to eat more rice or potatoes or more pasta as opposed to nshima but I think that's happening everywhere especially with the availability of these food products through important trade routes.

Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu:
                    I...

Banji Chona:
            Oh no.

Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu:
                           Hello.

Beulah Ezeugo:
                        We lost you just as you started your sentence.

Banji Chona:
            Ahh, you're back now.

Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu:
I was just agreeing with what you said about how people prefer to eat pasta and fries now, and all of those other things that were brought into our space. There's a lot of advertisement that goes into Western food products! For instance, just think of the amount of work that goes into advertising burgers and fries. The way they are presented, the colours that are associated with them. It's just really interesting to see how that food culture has even progressed into the commercial consumption landscape and culture. As opposed to say, oha soup - there's no way you would see that on a billboard.
                                Somehow fries are more photogenic!

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