Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Art Of Wolof/Jollof by Folakunle Oshun: Part 2

This exhibition which I had blogged about earlier here, was truly a distinctive one for me as it was the first time I had been to an art installation with such a unique focus on food. The opening day offered a glimpse of what to expect in the preceding days.


"Taxi" - the sound installation

Chalk inscriptions of the artworks' names were written on the ground around the different parts of the installation which I believe, served to guide visitors and provide commentary on the meaning of each part/area.

At the "Taxi" stop

Its important to note that this was a multi-media installation.
The pots pictured above, were engraved with the names of eleven (11) West-African countries and their capitals. They were also a sound installation, named "Taxi"  with the pots meant to give sounds/echoes from the several West-African countries. (1)

The British flag, "Union Jack" was painted on a large pot filled with Nigerian and Senegalese spices used to make Jollof.

The inscription "Mama Charlie" (a reference to Elizabeth II perhaps?)

A visitor to the exhibition taking a snapshot of the flag


Forty (40) wheeled pots illustrating the migratory journey of this popular dish.
Also, the large pot was meant to show two video clips shot during the artist's residency at WAAW, Senegal (2). There were technical issues that prevented the video from playing when I visited so I was unable to watch the video, however it would have been interesting to watch. 

"Opeyemi Balogun"

The hostel room of a friend from the artist's university days was recreated a part of the installation. It was here that the artist developed his own Jollof rice recipe making use of the ingredients available to him at this time. (3)

The artist Folakunle Oshun speaking with visitors at the exhibition

As I had gone to the exhibition twice, both for the opening and the cook-out, I also took a few pictures and videos on snapchat (snapchat: tfortope) of the food as it was being prepared by chef Ozoz of Kitchen butterfly assisted by the artist himself and a few others. The live cooking was fun to watch (it also increased the anticipation!).

After being all artsy fartsy, we were ready to chow. But fam, the food no wan gree come o. Hence the blurred pictures and snaps below.........

Coconut Jollof rice

Theibou Dienn

My cousin is truly a visionary and I don't appreciate him enough. He basically took one glance at the Theibou Dienn dish as it was being prepared and declared that the coconut jollof rice would be his GOAT for the evening. I on the other hand, was eager for a taste of Senegal (Faat Kine is one of the greatest movies ever!) and wanted to eat the others in small portions in order to ensure my stomach had ample space for "the one". 
The first jollof we were served was the aptly named "hungry man rice" which was tasty and would be familiar to most Nigerians. I was too hungry (pun intended) to stick to my plans and finished my plate. 
The second one aka my cousin's GOAT, was the coconut jollof rice. Only one way to describe it: it was delicious! And timely too, as we were tired and ready to go home. 
We took our Theibou Dienn as a takeaway home. I wanted other people to have a taste in order to ensure that I wasn't biased. My cousin thought it was a decent dish; he had found coconut jollof rice and wasn't about to give another jollof type a place in his heart. The second "judge" liked it; thought it was spiced lightly and enjoyed the vegetables added. I agreed.
However, my favourite was the coconut jollof rice. That sauce we were given along with the jollof, i suspect was what really brought it together taste wise. That, or our hunger. Nevertheless, we had a fantastic time and hope to attend more food events.

Copies of a reading material (written by the curator) was distributed at the entrance which gave exhibition goers a comprehensive insight into what motivated this project and contained detailed explanations regarding the artworks and the history behind the subject matter; an introductory text was also printed on a large board at the entrance (both pictured here). 

Food is always a great way to bring people together. This installation was well thought through and demonstrated how a popular dish, created as a result of colonisation, had become a unifying theme around the region.

(1); (2); (3): SHARED ROOTS: TAH, NA WE GET AM! By Ines Valle


Monday, 14 December 2015

The Art of Wolof/Jollof by Folakunle Oshun: Part 1

An unique exhibition named "Wolof Jollof" by Nigerian sculptor Folakunle Oshun opened at the National museum Onikan, Lagos on Sunday, 6th December. The solo exhibition curated by Ines Valle, was an outdoor food & art (or food as art perhaps?) installation which explored the origin and migratory narrative of Jollof from its birth place in the Jollof Empire (of the Wolof People), Senegambia to its multi, numerous adaptations in different West-African countries.

National Museum Onikan, Lagos

Introductory text by Ines Valle

According to the curator, the blue coloured cooking pots represent the "united nations of Jollof". I looked forward to my second visit in which I further explored the installation in detail.

Intellectual curiosity aside, I was particularly interested in tasting different Jollof cuisines from the various West-African countries as a friend had informed me that live cooking and tastings would be done as part of the installation. As expected, my reaction was:

Imagine everyone's surprise when we discovered that the jollof tasting would be the following Sunday 13, December 2015.

Thankfully, the ticket was valid throughout the duration of the exhibition. On a bright note, we were informed that the cooking would be done by popular food blogger/chef Ozoz of Kitchen Butterfly so I expected some stellar cooking.

Colonisation, migration, self-discovery, youth, cultural and personal identity were themes I discovered during my first visit to the exhibition. I looked forward to more explorations (and delicious tastings) for my next visit which would be discussed in the second part of this series. (P.S. I shared some of the amazing moments at the tasting on my snapchat: tfortope)

The exhibition ends 31, December 2015. Tickets to the exhibition can be purchased either at the venue or online at eventbrite.

I wonder; what themes will you discover?

Correction: December 21, 2015
An earlier version of this post misstated the description of the blue pots as representing the fifteen west African ECOWAS states with a barrier created with sacks of rice illustrating how this unique dish, created as a result of colonisation, has become a unifying theme around the region. The correction description is "The united nations of Jollof".


Saturday, 1 August 2015

Cafe Neo: Feeding and Fueling the Lagos creative scene

 Cafe Neo is a coffee shop that sells that traditional coffee fare along with pastries, sandwiches (try the spicy chicken whopper, its delicious; i don't find it particularly spicy though), juices and lemonades. They also have bubble teas which aren't quite popular in Lagos yet. And they have free WiFi (Yay!).

Spicy Chicken Whopper and Lemonade
Strawberry Bubble Tea

A lot of articles describe Cafe Neo as the Starbucks of Lagos. For one, they're both coffee shop brands; they both have a menu that consists of predominately coffee and coffee based beverages such as lattes, cappuccinos and the like. However, apart from coffee based beverages, Cafe Neo's menu has a LOT of cold drinks such as bubble teas, freshly squeezed juices(FRESH!), lemonades and smoothies. They definitely tailored their drinks menu with Nigeria's hot climate in mind. Its also important to note that they are a Nigerian owned business that sources their coffee from Rwanda; talk about Africa supporting its own. Besides, I'm sure most of us have heard horror stories about restaurants in Lagos using expired products to prepare their meals. I'm just saying; let's support local businesses that use fresh products.

When I was much younger (3 years ago), I read about Paris's cafe culture and how coffee shops went from being sites for physical sustenance to meeting points of the brightest creative minds in Paris. It was in cafes such as Les Deux Margots, Cafe de Flore, Le Procope that cultural figures such as Voltaire, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso,  had, over centuries, come to relax, reflect, and very often, engage in meaningful intellectual discourse with like minded individuals.
Cafe Neo is slowly becoming such a place. It also frequently hosts music and art events. Last month, the cafe organised a jazz session with jazz guitarist Femi Leye. This month, it will be hosting a photo exhibition in collaboration with Bialere, a digital project founded by Yagazie Emezi. BTW, I'll be going to check out the exhibition on Tuesday, you should follow me on instagram to check pics from my visit (lazy me; its always easier to post photos on IG than to blog!).

Image source:

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Lanvin Arpege: Vintage or Simply outdated?

I became interested in Lanvin Arpege last year when I was doing research on classic perfumes. I figured if I was going to start writing about my hobby, I might as well learn some history. Nearly every blog post I read on classic perfumes mentioned Chanel No5 and Lanvin Arpege, so I decided to try Arpege. I bought a miniature version on Ebay (miniature perfumes are so cute and you can put them in your bag to touch up during midday plus I figured if I didn’t like it at least I won't be too upset that I'd wasted money on a full sized version). The first time I tried it, I disliked it immediately. It was sharp and had a chemical "perfumey" smell that I later found out to be a result of the aldehydes in it. If the descriptions sound familiar to you, that's probably because it is in the floral aldehyde fragrance group and smells like the perfumes my mum and several other women in her generation used such as Chanel No5, Elizabeth Arden White Diamonds and Avon Rare Gold (my mom used rare gold for years). A few minutes later when I got to the middle note, the initial sharpness of the scent coupled with the spiciness I smelt had put me off so much that I didn’t really give it any chance. I simply stored it away in my beauty bag only to dab it on whenever I forgot to wear any perfume in the morning.

Fast-forward to 2015, I was finally settled in Nigeria and decided to revive this blog after a "forced" work related hiatus (so much for last year's blogging resolution *le sigh*). I was looking through perfumes I currently had which never got reviewed. As soon as I tried on Lanvin Arpege, I immediately recognised the sharp chemical smell only this time I waited. Patiently. With open mindedness. And five minutes later the sharpness of the floral aldehyde gave way to reveal a warm, creamy balanced fragrance with a hint of spice. It was such a pleasant revelation. I kept sniffing myself because I enjoyed the fragrance so much. An hour later, the depth associated with base notes began to come through as I perceive a more powdery, woody scent which somehow managed to retain its warmth throughout.
Lanvin Arpege is part of the perfume world's old guard; fragrances that were created when perfumers were given creative license to come up with scents as they were inspired to create. The shift in modern fragrances from the old lady perfumes to fruity-florals and floral gourmands which are quite fashionable, have definitely affected the way we buy perfumes and I believe, our expectations as consumers when we go to the perfume counter (or in my case, EBay)  Nowadays, it seems most fragrances are a result of strategic marketing and consumer surveys but I digress.

Lanvin Arpege is definitely a scent that grows on you. I keep wondering what changed between winter 2013 when I brought it and recently when I tried it on again. Maybe my experiences with fragrances in between had enabled me to develop an appreciation for the complexity of fragrances or perhaps the Lagos weather had changed my perception of the fragrance (is that too far-fetched? LOL). Either way, I'm glad I gave this fragrance a chance. It might not smell like a flashy vanilla laced concoction (ironically, vanilla is one of its ingredients) neither is it my new favourite fragrance (it certainly doesn’t smell like a day-time, everyday scent) but it’s a classic perfume I think anyone can enjoy regardless of your age. So if you have the Arpege currently in your wardrobe, and have discarded it as an old-lady scent, why not try it again? You might be in for a pleasant surprise.

You can get Lanvin Arpege here (konga) and here (fragrancex).
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