Unfamiliar territory

Dorinda Hafner is the irrepressible presenter of A Taste of Africa, the latest cookery and travel programme. African cooking is high in fibre, low in cost and as diverse as the continent is big, discovers Catherine Fellows.

The small African population in Scotland, compared to the Chinese and Indian communities, may have something to do with our unfamiliarity with its food coupled with the fact that there is often no restaurant tradition in the African countries themselves. But isn‘t it a bit tasteless to think about importing culinary skills from Africa when millions of its people are starving?

‘BuIIshit!’ retorts Dorinda Hafner. a Ghanaian who doesn't mince her words. ‘People in the west have such a sanctimonious attitude to “Africans”. They think that we‘re a whole continent of mendicants. Not even that in fact: they don’t realize that Africa is a continent made up of at least 50 nations. Some parts of it are totally modern; in other parts food is so plentiful it's rotting on the trees!‘

The diversity of Africa isjust one of the things that will become apparent from Hafner's television series A Taste ofAfriea over the next six weeks. As she rages and chuckles her way through the bustling souks of Morocco, the tent- villages of the Malinese Sahara, the banana plantations of Tanzania, and the fishing ports of Ghana, it becomes clear that the there is no such thing as ‘African food‘.

Or not quite. ‘One thing you can say is that African foods are generally fibre loaded,’ explains Hafner. ‘Cancer of the alimentary canal is not a problem at all, and the toilet roll manufacturers think we‘re great! The staple diet in most places is com, beans and pulses, root vegetables like cassava, yam and plantain, and coco yam leaves which are like spinach.’

‘Other common foodstuffs are okra, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, pepper, cumin and nutmeg which comes from the island of Zanzibar. In the east and north they eat much more meat, mostly goat, and the west Africans are fish eaters. Then you have the colonial influences: French in the north and west, where they have some great bakeries; and Indian in the east, where they also eat rice and flat chapatti-type bread.‘

It isn‘t so much the ingredients of the various African regiOnaI cuisines that

make them distinctive, but the way they are prepared and combined. ‘In west Africa, for example, we cook fish in

coconut milk with spices and lemongrass and basil. but it’s quite different from what they do in Thailand. The Zambians make their corn meal into a son of ponidge which they have with sauce made from spinach. onion and tomatoes, and meat chargrilled over coal if they can afford it. In Nigeria they turn black-eyed beans into this quite wonderful steamed loaf called moi mm‘ which is literally just pureed beans. tomato paste, eggs

and onion.’

Dorinda ltafner checks the quality of some ingredients

'Moi moi is actually a pretty good example of what I want to try to show people about African food in this series it’s delicious and as healthy as you can get; it’s so simple. and easy to make, and it costs you bugger all!‘ Channel 4 's A Taste Of Africa begins on Wednesday 16 February. a! 8.30pm. Dorinda Hafner 's book of the same name is published by Headline and costs £ 9.99.

I PizzaExpress 157 Queen Street, 221 3333. The upmarket Soho-based franchise chain PizzaExpress has finally made it up to Scotland. PizzaExpress was the first of its kind when it opened

in Wardour Street in 1965.

and it remains distinct from its competitors in one way at least: it has a policy of creating individual interiors. more indebted to the

architecture and location of the premises than to company logos. There is nothing on the menu that’s going to startle ltalian restaurant-filled Glasgow. but all pizzas are made to order in the traditional way with quality, fresh ingredients.


I Californian Wine Tasting at the Balmoral's Grill Room, I Princes Street, 556 2414. On Wednesday 16 February, two of California's most famous winemakers from the Firestone and

Jordan vineyards respectively are paying a visit to the Balmoral Hotel. The evening starts at 7pm with a tasting of a range of wines from each of the vineyards, and then moves on to a four course dinner, together with appropriate wines from the selection already tasted. The cost of the evening is £35. which sounds a lot, but not if you consider that. with chef Ralph Porcianni at the helm, you’ll not only get to try some interesting wines, but some of the best cooking in the city.

10, anchor close, Cockburn Street

EDINBURGH 226 5145 50, east fountainbrldge


, Hoensed PESCB ur‘aht

LUNCH - 12-—2.30pm EVENINGS 6—11pm (last orders 10.30pm)


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The following offers are open to Clyde Card holders only.

ROPE Tickets for the Stalls and Dress Circle for £10 and Upper Circle and Balcony tickets for £5 for Anthony Need in llope at the Theatre Royal from 14-19 Feb at 1.15pm. Tickets from Ticket Centre, 041 227 5511 and all Ticketliak outlets.


Tickets for £4.50 (concessions £2.50) for new works by BSAMB postgraduate composers at liSAMU Stevenson Hall on 18 Feb at 7.30pm. Tickets from Ticket Centre, 041 227 5511 and all Ticketlink outlets.


Tickets for £4.50 (concessions £2.50) for Empty Space Theatre Co’s performance of Breaking The Bank at NSAMU flew Athenaeum Theatre on 21 Feb at 7.15pm. Tickets from Ticket Centre, 041 227 5511 and all Ticketllnk outlets.

GLYN AND ‘IT’ Stalls and Dress Circle tickets £10 and Upper Circle

and Balcony tickets £5 for Penelope Keith in Glyn and ‘lt’ at the Theatre Royal onirom 21 -26 Feb

at 7.15pm. Tickets from Ticket Centre, 041 227 5511 and all Ticketlink outlets.


ORCHESTRA All tickets £1 for Scottish Chamber Orchestra‘s performance of Bartok, Haydn, Dvorak and Mozart at the City Nails on 25 Feb at 7.30pm. Tickets from Ticket Centre, 041 221 5511 and all Ticketliek outlets.

To take up one of these offers present your Clyde Card to the venue box office. All offers subject to availability.

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listen to Clyde 1 and Clyde 2 for further details.

The List I I-24 February I994 75