In today’s society social media is the new advertising. About a year ago a lady called Nina started to follow me and became very Twitter friendly with her likes, re-tweets and favoring my posts. As I started to research Nina I realized she was on a mission to revolutionize African food in the UK with fusions of Europe. I was intrigued, and I wanted to find out more. Different and clever speak volumes to me.
Originally from Nigeria, Nina is a grandmother of 3 who has published her own cookery book in both print and on Kindle called African Fusion Cooking, she goes to the gym 5 times a week, has the most infectious laugh, Gordon Ramsey told her on the “F Word” that she was too noisy (I do understand, but more later) she has been on Ready Steady Cook, Come Dine with Me and more game shows than I have heard of. Nina arrived at Divertimenti with a yam ready to cook and from start to finish I was infected with her love of life.
Nigerian food has been on my list for finding the world in one city for a while, my respectable other lives in Peckham (the posh bit, only one postcode from Dulwich) and Peckham is the Nigerian ghetto of London, I always joke that one can purchase any flavor of salted fish on the high street. I do love walking down Peckham high street as the life, love and laughter of the Nigerian community is present from early morning to late at night. As I went to Divertimenti to film I received a Tweet from Nina asking me to buy a yam for filming, only to find out when Nina arrived at Divertimenti that I had yam and cassava mixed up so I was very glad she had one in here bag. “Cassava is for Fufu” I was quickly informed and she looked at me as if I was playing a joke. Forgive me, but even with all of my global food travelling and waking up some mornings next to the Nigerian quarter I did not know the difference. As we started to cook I realized that a yam is just like a starchy potato and cooks well holding its shape. The smells coming from the Nigerian goulash were beautiful.
As the goulash cooks in the AGA Simmering Oven I ask Nina about Nigerian food, she explains that it’s mainly carbohydrate based with herbs and spices, and always contains chilli and palm oil. There was not one point in cooking from start to finish that Nina did not laugh. She had never cooked on an AGA before but took to it like a duck to water. We cook on the new AGA Dual Control, like the AGA Total the hotplates are independently heated, but the ovens are either on all the time or on a low energy setting, an AGA that is 100% AGA yet has up to half the running costs.
Twenty minutes in the Simmering Oven for the Yam Goulash to cook we talk off camera, Nina has lived life and her stories of food and culture, about how food has shaped her family and development as a person, the stories of life in Nigeria and London again reminded me about how food is about bringing people together and how the world in one city that I’m studying is all about social history, and the AGA being in the center of it.
As Nina left I realized I had forgotten to ask why I see so many salted fish on Peckham High Street. As it’s close by, I can always do it at the weekend on my way to the outdoor pizzeria in the empty multistory car park. Peckham is full of surprises.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5cm ginger peeled and grated
4 large tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped
600g yam, peeled and cubed
700ml chicken or vegetable stock
100g chorizo, chopped
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp chilli flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g spinach washed
Heat the oil in a 2L AGA Stainless Steel casserole on the Boiling plate and lightly sauté the onion, garlic and ginger. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few moments.
Add all remaining ingredients except for the spinach and bring to the boil. Place the lid on top and place into the AGA Simmering Oven for 20 minutes until the yam is tender.
Add the spinach and stir through to wilt. Serve