Vancouver chefs celebrate Black History Month through African and Caribbean cuisines

Kula Foods, Elbo Jamaican Patties, LagosChop, and Calabash to mark the annual event

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      Cultural diversity is a major part of what makes Vancouver a food city, and lately, a few businesses that specialize in African cuisine have joined the scene.

      Three of them are participating in Black History Month events this year, honouring their cultures through their cuisines.

      The Black History Month Market and Cultural Showcase takes place Saturday (February 23) at the Creekside Community Recreation Centre from 2 to 8 p.m. Presented by the Centre of Integration for African Immigrants, it will feature music, dance, African crafts and fashion, and more.

      LagosChop chef-owner Funmi Osatuyi, who’s originally from Nigeria, is catering the event. She specializes in elevated Nigerian street food and plans on serving dishes such as grilled plantain topped with groundnut; a crispy snack called chin chin; sweet treats called puff puff (pronounced poof poof), which resemble donut holes; and pounded yam with eforiro, a vegetable soup.

      Also on the menu is nkowbi, a delicacy made with cow leg and mushroom garnished with sharp, bitter, slightly sweet leaves of the utazi shrub; and jollof rice, which is cooked in a rich tomato sauce with curry and thyme.

      More information about the Black History Month Market and Cultural Showcase, a free event, is here.

      On Sunday (February 24), A Family Affair Brunch is taking place at Calabash Caribbean Bistro, in collaboration with Kula Foods and Elbo Jamaican Patties.

      The vegan celebration kicks off at 10:30 a.m. with a tapas-style reception before a seated multicourse meal.

      On the menu are fried dumpling sliders topped with roasted vegetables and ackee, a fruit found in most Jamaican homes. Hearty porridge, polenta hash browns, and plantain chips will also be served, along with two types of breakfast patties: one with a tofu scramble and Beyond Meat sausage; another with greens, onions, tomato, harissa, and jerk spices.

      There will also be Kenyan-style cardamom crepes; mandazi, which are also known as Swahili doughnuts; and mousse containing Irish seamoss. A species of red algae, seamoss is considered a superfood and is commonly consumed in the Caribbean. Vancouver's Akeem Pierre sources the seamoss from St. Lucia. 

      Calabash will serve mimosas and its signature Dark and Stormy cocktails.

      “Our goal is to bring the community together to celebrate our culture through food and drinks.” Kenyan-born Asha Wheeldon, founder of Kula Foods, tells the Straight. “We chose Jamaican- and Kenyan-inspired dishes that we grew up enjoying with our families.”

      Information and tickets ($35) for A Family Affair Brunch are available here.