Pittsburgh Gets a Taste of West African Cuisine
Most of Pittsburgh’s longtime residents know all the secret (and not-so-secret) spots to veg at; whether it’s a niche ethnic restaurant serving up traditional meals, pristine cuisine at a five-star establishment, or a quick bite from one of the many food trucks and taco joints.
We have a plethora of options to choose from, although it may prove difficult to locate one option in particular: authentic African cuisine.
Luckily, that’ll no longer be a void in our city’s flourishing food scene. African Taste Cuisine‘s grand opening is today, and they’ve got plans to introduce ‘Burgh residents to a taste of their culture.
Originally a native of West Africa, owner Audrey Brooks now calls Pittsburgh her home. Owned and operated by Brooks and her husband, ATC developed from catering to family barbecues, charity events and food drives.
We recently chatted with Brooks about their plans for the business and what they hope to accomplish in the coming months. She also gave us some insight on what types flavors and ingredients we can expect, as well as how meals on their menu will be prepared using techniques and recipes indigenous to West Africa, in particular:
“Most people think of Africa as a country, but tend not to realize it’s a continent – the planet’s second largest – with 54 individual countries. [For example] Nigeria has the largest population, with over 150 million people and 521 indigenous languages in that one country, alone! That gives you an idea of how diverse the people are across the entire continent–this includes the way in which the food is prepared.”
According to ATC’s website, a traditional West African meal consists of rich fibers and organic ingredients, which apply cooking techniques that vary from roasting, frying, boiling, baking, mashing, spicing and grilling. Each meal will usually feature a starchy item – such as rice, fufu, couscous, yam, plantain, and cassava (yucca) – complimented by a variety of flavorful spices.
Proteins are fried in oils or cooked in sauces made up of various spices, hot peppers, onions, tomatoes and stock for flavorful stews; and they’re often incorporated with green leafy vegetables like cabbage, lettuce and carrots.
Palm wine is also a common beverage among natives of West Africa. Served sweet or sour, it is made from the fermented sap of various species of palm trees.
“Although we eat similar types of foods, the approach to preparation is different. Cooking methods, ingredients and spices are what makes the food “different” in different places. All the dishes on our menu will be traditional and ethnic; for example, “moin moin,” a type of bean curd, is eaten worldwide. However, ingredients like black eyed peas and other spices used in its preparation give it a distinct taste and flavor. Hence, it differentiates itself from the bean curd dishes in other parts of the world.”
Brooks also noted that since many of the ingredients we use in the U.S. are similar, it wasn’t too difficult to select which particular menu items would be easier to introduce initially.
“We will also begin gradually introducing and including more ethnic dishes, which are not widely known in these parts of the world.”
Currently, African Taste Cuisine offers delivery and pick-up services with plans in progress to include catering and a full-service restaurant. The couple hopes to “introduce the good people of Pittsburgh to tantalizing tastes.”
“Soon we will offer catering to all sorts of social events, including weddings and corporate functions like conferences, seminars and team building events. When ATC eventually becomes a full service restaurant, it will be in line with its roots: an African-themed atmosphere.”
Be sure to keep an eye on ATC’s upcoming endeavors as they become incorporated into Pittsburgh’s local food scene; stop by their kitchen (250 S. Pacific Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa 15224); or call/place an order online for a fresh and delicious meal delivered to your doorstep.