A few months ago, we had the pleasure of enjoying a cultural mash-up of a meal. A business associate from China and his squadron of chefs pitched a restaurant concept to the Somali owners of a cafe here in Hargeisa. Their mission was to impress and delight, bite by bite. Our mission was to stuff our faces and see how it played out.
The story gets even more deliciously complex: the Somali contingent is Canadian diaspora, so they’re familiar with the North Americanized version of “Chinese food.” Yet, they were tasting on behalf of the local palette, to determine whether the concept would be marketable. To top if off, we were enjoying “authentic” Chinese food (from which region, I’m not sure, although I know it matters!), vastly different in some ways from the pot stickers ‘n fried rice we shovel into our gobs back home.
I live for moments like these: intercultural flavor bonanzas, languages and worldviews and taste bud sensations ping-ponging across the table, livening the conversation, keeping everyone on their toes.
For the record, the goat soup and fish dishes went over brilliantly; I think the battered and fried eggplant and–to my utter shock–the steamed buns may not have made it on the forthcoming menu. I, for one, enjoyed it all.
**Note to self: In next life, shoot for career in international flavor consulting.