My trim waistline and shrinking figure may convince you otherwise, but I love food. My relationship with food is a bit like Kylie Jenner’s with lip fillers- she doesn’t know when to stop. So an invite to Nula’s Kitchen Pop Up was like asking me if I wanted to breath.
The event took place on a Sunday evening at Cafe de Paris with a start time of 7pm. But by 6.40, it was clear that I wouldn’t be filling my stomach until after 8pm. Nula’s Kitchen is the brainchild of CEO dancer Soliat. It’s an amalgamation of her mother’s name Nura and her sisters name Lara, with an aim of modernising African dishes.
I’m not a food critic, so I won’t go into detail about how an exotic blend of coconut shavings and scotch bonnet sauce caused a culinary orgasm in my mouth. What I will share with you though, are 7 things I learnt from Nula’s Kitchen Pop Up.
1. Purple lighting does not work in a restaurant
Restaurant watching is an activity carried out by single women and men (and sometimes those in relationships) when they are out and looking for someone to 1) offer to pay their bill or 2) meet after the main course for ‘desert’. The lighting in Cafe de Paris is great for a sweaty club night, when your make-up becomes bored of your face and drips onto the top of your dress, but when it comes to searching for potentials, it just doesn’t work as well.
2. But Jollof rice in a coconut does
I’ve had quite a few Jollof rice combinations in my time. The ‘Jollof-with-sweetcorn’, the ‘Jollof-with-bush-meat’ and even Tesco’s whitewashed Jollof rice. But I’ve never had Jollof rice in a Coconut shell, neither would I have ever imagined that it would taste even better than it looks. Surprisingly the flavour of the coconut did not get lost amidst the powerhouse of spices that make the sauce of Jollof rice taste so good, and it was definitely my favourite dish of the night.
3. It’s not everyday rave
Sometimes sit down among your peers and eat good food. It was so refreshing to see well-dressed men and women enjoying themselves without someone azontoing every five minutes. I love to party and dance, don’t get me wrong, but as you get older, sitting down + looking good + eating = perfect night out.
4. You can slave away in the kitchen and still look flawless
Soliat spent most of the event in the kitchen cooking, yet when she came out to speak to me and address the attendees, she looked like she’d just been in Hair and Make-up. Cooking African food is a workout. No matter what dish you are making, you will sweat. But not Soliat, perspiration isn’t her style.
5. Honey beans can be sexy
You know those African foods you just don’t want to eat? You know the ones. Those dishes you can’t explain to your non-African friends because the equivalent doesn’t exist in English. There aren’t any words to describe it. And when you do find words that are close enough, you end up sounding like you come from a family of peasants. That was honey beans for me, or ewa oloyin in Yoruba. I just don’t like beans in my food to be honest. But Soliat’s Honey Beans with Peppered Sauce and Toasted Agege Bread might just be the catalyst that change this bean hater into a lover.
6. There are two types of Nigerian men you’ll find at events like these: The one you father wants you to marry and the one your mother warned you about
And guess which one’s number Annabelle took… (Before you ask, neither of these wonderful gentlemen above were at the event, much to my dissapointment.)
7. Less isn’t always more. Especially when it comes to African food
African men like big portions, so it’s understandable that at a 5-course, gourmet dinner, they would ask for seconds. And thirds. Because when food taste as good as it did at Nula’s Kitchen Pop Up, it will leave you wanting more.
I left Nula’s Kitchen feeling relieved. Because despite the small portions and the 2 hour wait for food to be served, it tasted African. African restaurants in the diaspora (and sometimes back home) often serve a watered down version of African cuisine to appease the taste-buds of Americans and Europeans. But the dishes at Nula’s Kitchen proved that you don’t have to compromise on flavour to create African dishes that are Michelin-star worthy.
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Photo Credit: @Lola_ebony and Sloz Media