Salone Pipul Dey Kohl Am “Jollof Rice”
Gulluh People Duh Call Um “Red Rice”
When I was approached to do a Transformation Table dinner at Magnolia Plantation, along with historian Joseph Opala and his wife, chef Fatmata, I was uncomfortable at the prospect of dining on the porch of the main house. The history of plantations is fraught with emotion and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. But I was reminded that I ask people to move out of their comfort zone to dine with strangers. Time for me to do the same. While we discussed this complex relationship and the importance of youth to know this history, the event was also a celebration of and link between Sierra Leonne and the Low Country. Joseph summed up the evening better than I could.
“Tina’s event at Magnolia was an historic occasion. It was the first time an African chef celebrated a meal of some of the best rice dishes of her home region at a former rice plantation in South Carolina. It reminds us that African captives brought more than their rice farming skills, as important as that is, they also brought their cooking tradition, the influence of which has lasted in the South Carolina low country up to the present day. So, the South Carolinian guests — both black and white — were actually tasting dishes ancestral to the distinctive low country cooking they grew up with. They were tasting the culinary past they hold in common. And that’s certainly worthy of discussion.”
Our Chef: Fatmama Opala
I was excited to see Americans from so many different backgrounds enjoying the food I prepared from my own country, Sierra Leone. It made me proud, and I’m grateful to Tina for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.