Chef Art Smith Talks High-Brow And Low-Brow Southern Eats
Art Smith is an international ambassador for fried chicken. Or, as he puts it, he might make the “most well-traveled fried chicken in the world.” The born-and-raised Southerner has fried drumsticks across the globe at high-profile events like the opening of Oprah’s South African school. And Smith is about to take his fryer to yet another country: Italy. He’s running a two-day pop-up restaurant at the Milan World’s Fair. Below are highlights from our chat about Southern cooking with the two-time James Beard Award winner. Don’t fry at a sky-high temperature. “You don’t fry at as high a heat as you think,” Smith said.
Do use high-quality flour. Smith covers his chicken with “all-purpose Southern flour,” for maximum Southern effect. Do work with great chicken. Table Fifty-Two’s meat is free-range. Pro. He especially appreciates how much the Southern chain has perfected its namesake food. Overall, “they’re very affordable, and they’re open all different times,” Smith said. It’s a stew or at least stew-like. “Much of it, in terms of the savory part, tends to be simmered,” Smith said. That means a lot of stews and a lot of dishes with sauce or gravy. It involves fried chicken. There’s bread on the table. It comes with sides. Green sides. “It’s common in Southern food to have a lot of side dishes of vegetable,” Smith said. The laureate would be Dr. Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan professor, environmental activist, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. “Her whole mission was to plant trees,” Smith recalled; she hoped to help restore Kenya’s ecosystems. A starstruck Smith made brunch for her and Oprah, back when he was Oprah’s chef.
New Zealand is concerned at the way Fiji police seized copies of a draft constitution and burnt them, Foreign Minister Murray McCully says. The document, which remains secret in Fiji but has been widely leaked, calls for the country’s military to have a much-reduced role in politics. McCully, speaking today on Radio New Zealand (RNZ), said it was vital the military returned to their barracks after promised elections next year and became a normal army as seen in other democracies. As part of a promise to hold elections by 2014, the regime established a commission to draw up Fiji’s fourth constitution, led by Kenyan academic Yash Ghai. 500,000 towards the cost of the exercise.
Last month Ghai presented the draft constitution to Fiji President Epeli Nailatikau. He later had 600 copies printed by the Government Printer but as they were doing it, police arrived and seized printer’s proofs, dowsed them in kerosene and set fire to them. The police say the other copies were not destroyed but are locked away. Yesterday Fiji’s Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga made it plain the military did not like Ghai’s constitution and would oppose it. Last night Ghai said the dissemination of the commission’s work was for them alone and added that the ban on publishing the constitution had led to leaks of various versions. McCully said he had been talking to Fiji Foreign Minister Inoke Kubuabola to get an understanding of what was happening.
If you have been to a Kenyan university, then you know that Kenyan lecturers are a randy lot. They are always thinking up new and innovative ways of sleeping with their students. Personally, I cannot blame them. The way I see it, these lasses who fall this gambit are rather silly. In truth, if your lecturer fails you, you can appeal. Anyway, I was scrolling through my social media timeline when I came across what can only be described as an interesting story to tell. A lass was bemoaning the fact that she had allowed her lecturer to eat her and he had failed her anyway! I dare say she failed because she underperformed. But not in the way you might expect. Let us get to the next page to see just who this lass is and what she had to say about the affair.
Kenyan Professor, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, is perhaps best known for an advocacy of African languages in writing literature. He has produced work in almost every genre of writing from novels to essay, short stories, plays to memoirs. Somewhere in April 1955, James Ngugi – who would later become Ngugi Wa Thiong’o – returns home from boarding at Alliance High School. He soon find out that it is not the home he left behind in January, but rather a homestead reduced to a “rubble of burnt, dry mud, splinters of wood, and grass. A process of displacement named villagisation undertaken by the British colonial government.
Of course, this process had tangible and intangible effects on the affected families. ” the Mau Mau, of which Thiong’o’s elder brother, Good Wallace, was a guerilla. Prior to reading this book, the fact that Kenyans also, at some point, needed to have passbooks to be able to move from one region to the other, just like in apartheid South Africa, was unknown to me. What is interesting in Kenya’s case is the internal passport business was limited to the Gikuyu (to which Thiong’o belonged), Embu and Meru people. “By giving the illusion that some communities were more privileged, the state hoped to buy their loyalty,” Thiong’o writes. While reading, I also learned that Alan Paton’s famous novel Cry, The Beloved Country was one of the most impactful books Thiong’o ever read.
He writes that the book “whet my appetite for books that reflected my social reality.” Upon reading it, he “even wondered if Alan Paton was black. One noteworthy thing about this memoir is how most of the characters and events in Thiong’o’s books are actually fictionalised versions of real life events he experienced. For instance, Thiong’o’s brother, Good Wallace, decides to give up fighting after escaping death by police bullets and buries his gun under a Mugamo tree. In “Matigari,” the book opens with the protagonist retrieving a gun he once buried after giving up a life of fighting. There are spiritual upheavals Thiong’o joins a spiritual cabal to win souls for Christ but questions what Christianity, Jesus and God are really all about. Thiong’o is well known for his unwavering anti-imperialist stance. I would rather he kept his pencil and I kept my land.” Thiong’o’’s humane, gentle yet firm soul shines throughout the entire book. At least one reason why this book is recommendable? …because people have lived here longer and they tell the story and they pass on the story and we add to the story. CHALE WOTE 2019 : CALL FOR ARTISTS. Poetics of Material Memory : Percy Nii Nortey points to liberatory models of being. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
When God moves, and you’re onboard with Him, you had better be ready to boogie! Things are moving at lightning speed with The Hope Factory. We have a plane load of new curriculum boxed up for Kiwanda Cha Tumaini Academy. Our teachers have the school running smoothly, and are ready to integrate the new material into the required Kenyan curriculum. Our faithful supporters have helped us raise enough funds for, not one, but TWO milk cows. This will not only provide milk for all our families and the school children, but will also begin to provide some income for our little community. The garden is tilled and we’re looking forward to a great harvest! I would love to share with you all the exciting things that are getting ready to happen, but it would spoil my surprises for everyone on the ground in Kenya. All I can say is, “Stay tuned! ” This is gonna blow your hair back! As the children is Kenya say, “God is good!
For Kenya to move to middle income economy, the country must change from labour-intensive to knowledge intensive economy, the Mount Kenya University, Pro-Chancellor, Prof George Eshiwani has said. Prof Eshiwani said this will be possible if research and development will be fortified. He said that the linkage between the industry and institutions of higher learning is important as they will complement one another. Prof Eshiwani who is a professor of mathematics challenged universities to develop appropriate technological innovations towards industrial development as well as disseminate their research findings to the scientific and industrial communities. “The University and Industry exist for different purposes. Hence it is critical to have organization to coordinate the Universities and Industries,” he said.
After all we have been through, we still don’t get to define our own continent. Is Africa a place of opportunity and unimaginable wealth? Is it the land of our ancestors and forebears? Is it a shithole, full of corruption and violence that just won’t end? Is it a motherland for the African diaspora, the cradle of humankind, or just a landmass with no distinct cultures, people and languages? Really, what is Africa? This may seem like a nonsensical question but the question itself is not the real problem. The problem is who has the power to ask and to answer it. It was Pliny the Elder, writing in ancient Rome, who said: “There is always something new out of Africa.” In 2019, the statement still rings true. Explorers came here looking for mythical lands and treasure. Colonisers came here looking for land, minerals and the expansion of empire.
The Cold War superpowers came here to extend the reach of their economic and ideological power. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank used debt-ridden African countries as testing grounds for their lending policies, and now businessmen and technocrats come here looking for the next genius start-up to buy up and add to their catalogue. With each new wave of interest, there’s a “reinvention” of Africa and what it really is. MUT SHTM isn’t new. Africa was the birthplace of the first humans, the site of the Pyramids, the fabled land of Ophir and a long-lost white kingdom, the land of slaves, wide-open expanses and wild animals.
All these understandings and definitions of the continent have at some point been the dominant narrative, intrinsic to Africa’s identity. Most recently, Africa has become Wakanda, a fictional country that, for some bizarre reason, can become a stand-in for an entire continent. Why is this a bad thing, someone may ask? After all, seeing black Africans represented as powerful and uninfluenced by colonialism is a breath of fresh air, especially when we get either the primitive savage or Africa-is-a-country treatment. While researching African identity and representation, I have read mountains of academic journals and books, with a documentary thrown in here and there.
There’s one reading that stands out and sent me down this academic and existential path: Kenyan academic Ali Mazrui’s The Re-Invention of Africa. Mazrui also says that the very name of the continent may very well not be African in origin. If our name, the word we use to identify ourselves and each other with, is not an indigenous African word, then what kind of foundation is our continental identity built upon? It’s a question that sparked my quasi-existential crisis over what African identity really is, and whether we truly own it. Though it can be argued that I’m splitting hairs, calls to rename institutions, towns and provinces highlight that naming is important. That Africa inherited a name that may not be African symbolises a big problem: African global identity has not been created by Africans themselves.
Rather, African global identity is a projection of how we are perceived by foreigners. Although this process of projecting an identity on to Africa began in Roman times, it was colonisation that fully captured the creation of African identity. Colonial powers had the power and control necessary to tell Africans exactly who they were and exactly what they could be. Not only that, they spread that identity around the globe. Before we could counter the often harmful and downright false ideas about who we were, African stereotypes were accepted as indisputable fact. Africa’s identity was dictated by people who had no vested interest in the continent’s improvement and no understanding of the continent’s cultures, systems, traditions and ideologies.
Africa’s identity was dictated by people who wanted to exploit and manipulate it for their gain. It was a psychologically violent act. Fast forward a century or so and it’s an identity trauma that Africa is still grappling with. Although colonial administrations are gone, the African identity that they established stubbornly refuses to go away. The cycle of inventing and reinventing Africa with cool new packaging continues and the end result is still the same: African voices don’t have a say in the way they’re represented and understood on a global scale. In cultural and social terms, we don’t own our histories. The production of West and Central African wax print fabric is slowly being taken over by Chinese manufacturers. Disney somehow found it appropriate to copyright a Swahili phrase.
Afrofuturism, a movement aimed at reinventing blackness, draws heavily on African aesthetics and aspects of African cultures in a way that can still treat Africans and Africa as props. In economic terms, we don’t fully own our land, minerals and means of production. Economically, the situation is the same. All too often, conversations and strategic planning for African economic development largely occur outside the continent, with next to no African economists or scholars involved. Africans still don’t have a seat at their own table. Why should we care? After all, who cares about what the rest of the world thinks about us?
But it’s not that simple. Ownership of identity — especially when global politics comes into play — is vital in negotiations and power balances. In order to engage with other countries while maintaining our independence and bargaining power, we need to be firmly rooted in an identity that’s not at the mercy of someone else. In a capitalist system such as the current one, ownership is important. Ownership of resources and means of production is crucial for autonomy, but it’s equally crucial not to overlook ownership of identity and narrative. When we have full ownership of who we are and what we’re capable of, no one can tell us otherwise.
There has been some progression towards ownership. Decolonisation movements, in part, understand this. So too are calls for stolen historical artefacts to be returned to their homelands. Academics such as Professor Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni theorise about decolonising higher education and creating truly African universities, not just universities in Africa. Wizkid has demanded equal billing and visibility at international awards ceremonies. Although these are all different situations, they share a common theme — Africa, for too long, has not had the power to create its own independent identity. Africa is not a thing upon which hopes and dreams can be projected. There is not always something new out of Africa because it is not a site for endless plunder. Identity is not organic.
It’s not something that just springs up and exists in the world as is. No, identities are made. Identities are carefully constructed, tweaked and altered. And, ultimately, identity serves a purpose. In the same vein, representation is not neutral. The way we human beings understand and make sense of the world is heavily linked to how that world is represented to us. Representation and identity are personal and they are political. In terms of African identity, establishing and fully owning our identity is important for our political, economic and social progression. In the past, Africa hasn’t had control over how we’re perceived and how we’re represented. That is changing slowly but it is changing.