Fufu Wars: Bite into African hospitality
Nontuthuzelo Ntikinca is a tour guide and owner of Uzuko Tours (Formerly Ek Se Tours), which runs a culinary tour through Little Africa, as Yeoville has come to be known. Ntikinca giggles as she acknowledges the rivalry between Nigerians and the Ghanaians for the title of masters of turning cassava into the best starchy mash to accompany traditional West and Central African dishes. But the rivalry is also an invitation to enter the worlds of the varied migrant communities of Yeoville. It's about understanding better through your taste buds food cultures that have become part of a reinvented Johannesburg."I do have favourite dishes now, but I know how some foods may seem weird when you see them for the first time. This food tour is for people prepared to be a little adventurous."The great thing, though, is that it's laid-back and you're not staring at people through a bus window, you're talking, eating and sharing," says Ntikinca, who has been running these tours for two years.Weird though it may be to have "leather" on the menu, or pomo to be precise, which is a Nigerian cow skin soup that is super popular and super-hot and spicy, like most Nigerian dishes. Also on Ntikinca's tour is Florence Messie's (Mama Fish) whole roasted fish. Messie is from West Cameroon and her basting paste for her red jack fishes are made from herbs and spices sourced far north of South Africa's borders."I leave it to the cooks to introduce their foods and to choose what they want to serve," says Ntikinca.The cooks are effusive and generous when talking about their food culture because it's sharing something from home, says Mercy Nuwordu. She's from Ghana and has lived in South Africa for five years, running her eatery called Zara, in Yeoville's Piccadilly Centre."People like our food, even South Africans. They like our fried chicken, our fresh fufu and our fish cooked with tomatoes and peppers," says Nuwordu.A must-try is Nuwordu's shito, a black pepper paste of chilli, dried shrimp, palm oil, onions, pepper and salt pounded together. It's eaten with dishes like waakye, a rice and bean dish.The Uzuko tour also includes a walk through the Yeoville market and ends a few suburbs east in Kensington at an Ethiopian restaurant. It's a lot of food, so go hungry, it's a lot to take in too, so go with an open mind into the heart of our continent.Tours can be tailored to specific interests; R500 p/p for a minimum of four people. Call Nontuthuzelo on 061-409-0808 or visit www.eksetours.co.za.