African Cooking and Cultural Reggae
by Jennifer Kwon
Starting with the Reggae Night at the Cave on Friday, May 8, to the Jollof rice cook-off between Jeffrey Bissoy-Mattis ‘16 and Kennyi Aouad ‘17 on Saturday, May 9, the campus celebrated African culture through its music, dancing, and food.
Bissoy ‘16, the president of Men of Carleton (MOC), whose family comes from Cameroon initially thought of the Reggae Night event and reached out to Aouad ‘17 and Jojo Kuria ‘16 who lead the Afro-Caribbean Association (ACA) on campus.
“I’ve been having this idea since my freshman year because there is almost nothing here that represents African or even African-Caribbean culture. I get jealous when other cultural organizations or associations like ASIA or LASO host a lot of huge festivals throughout the year, and it got me wondering why don’t we ever do things like that?” said Bissoy.
He also elaborated that he has not been always satisfied with the party scene at Carleton.
“Coming from an African heritage, dancing is huge. You cannot go to a party and not dance. So I have been disappointed by the lack of dancing at parties here.”
He explained that even though the Cave event was advertised as Reggae Night, the playlist had a mixture of African pop and Latin pop music along with Reggae music. They were planning to bring in musicians from the city, but the transition from winter to spring term and academics prevented them from applying for additional funding.
The Jollof cook-off that took place the next day at the Cassat basement was an idea that both Bissoy and Aouad came up with when they were “talking smack to each other” on who could cook better jollof rice.
“I think every culture has their variation of it such as fried rice. With jollof rice, rather than boiling your rice, you have to prepare the broth and seasonings in which you can boil it. So in this case, I make jollof rice with tomatoes or spices and add vegetables and chicken broth,” said Aouad.
In the end, Aouad whose family comes from Ghana received more votes from the judges and participants of the cook-off. He pointed out that jollof rice is popular in West Africa.
Wanchen Yao ‘17 who had no prior knowledge or experience with jollof rice claimed that she enjoyed the food and the company a lot. The presentation and friendly competition between the two also added flavor to the event.
The people who tasted their rice agreed that they had different styles of cooking jollof rice. While Bissoy’s rice was lighter, Aouad’s rice was more spicy and savory. Yao said she liked them both, but Kennyi’s appealed to her a bit more.
“It was fun, everybody knew each other so we got straight to the presentation and tasting of the Jollof. Everyone who tried the food liked it a lot. It was just a group of people having fun and enjoying Jollof,” remembered Yao.
This article was published by The Carletonian (May 22, 2015)