As interested as I am in the food of the African Diaspora, I’d say I’m equally interested in Middle Eastern Food. Of course this is a generalization as the Middle East is a diverse region, but I would also have to say that it’s probably my favorite cuisine. It was all ignited by my “discovery” of Algerian pastries when I was living in Paris a few years ago. I became obsessed with the pastries (still am) and was inspired to begin my new career as a food writer. From that point forward I harbored a fantasy of owning an Algerian bakery (still do), but I also started to learn more about North African and then Middle Eastern food. To be clear, I am by no means a member of the North-Africa-as-part-of-Middle-East crowd. Personal experience and research have convinced me that North Africans are African. The language and food might bear the mark of the Arab world, but the region and the people and aspects of the culture seem to me to be decisively African. I won’t get into those pesky European colonial constructs, because that is another post on another blog by the Rachel of about 13 years ago who thought a Ph.D. in history was the bid’ness. I came to my senses on that one, thank goodness!
Anyway, I am beginning to think more about this topic because I may be presenting my first every academic paper on the connections between North and West African cuisine. I was made aware of the opportunity by Fran Osseo-Asare who runs Betumi.com who is organizing a panel on West African food for the 2009 AFHVS/ASFS conference, which is the joint meeting of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society. I still don’t know if the proposal has been accepted but I’ll be finding out soon. Whether it is accepted or not, this gives me the motivation/opportunity to delve into the topic, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now.
It also gives me the opportunity to post a picture of my beloved Algerian pastries. So, stay tuned and…