For several years in Cameroon, the trend among chefs has been the progressive ditching of local cuisine in favour of Western gastronomy.
Cameroonian chefs, supported by Afro-American colleagues, are working to reverse this trend through the first Diaspora Kitchen festival, which aims to promote traditional Cameroonian cuisine.
"We are the ambassadors of this cuisine, of certain dishes that tend to disappear. For example, the leaves of foléré are unfamiliar to many except in the northern regions, many do not know that we can highlight this. So, that's the goal, this why we are invited today to showcase these dishes that tend to disappear" explained chef Armand Ewodo.
Another chef, Eloge Fankam, showcased the advantages of pre-prepared koki.
"Well, this is flour based koki, I make traditional koki with red oil as we do conventionally. But the advantage with this product is that it is already prepared. We don't have the time to wash the seeds and work on them, to remove all the skins and impurities, it's already clean, we just add water, we add the elements, salt, chilli and then red oil", he said.
Cameroonian cuisine is rich and diverse. The Diaspora Kitchen festival is the first of its kind. According to the organizers, the festival aims to standardize and codify Cameroonian gastronomy and train local professionals who work in hotels and restaurants teaching them traditional dishes to introduce to the public.
"Using stock cubes is not good for your health, using too much salt is also not good and the same applies to oil. We have to go back to the source of what we did before. Because a grilled fish with a maillonaise which is only a substitute product, it has no flavour and it's a chemical product, it is necessary that we Africans, Cameroonians, realize that we are turning towards something which can destabilize our culinary education even for our children and future generations", affirmed Christian Abegan, an expert in gastronomic strategy.
The transmission of this culinary heritage was done through tasting sessions focused on traditional dishes.
A festival dedicated exclusively to the culinary art that came to celebrate the Cameroonian cuisine.
Africanews correspondent in Cameroon, Lambert Ngouanfo, added:
"At the end of the exchanges between Cameroonian and Afro-American chefs, culinary standards were defined to allow traditional Cameroonian dishes and meals to be more attractive in restaurants both in Cameroon and abroad.
The objective of the organizers is to make Cameroonians stop rejecting their own culinary heritage in favour of meats, poultry and other dishes imported from Europe or Latin America".