Calabar International Food Festival promotes cultural unity

Eme Offiong, Calabar

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The 3rd edition of the Calabar International Food Festival has been described as an avenue to promote cultural unity, tolerance and appreciation of Nigeria’s cuisines.

Mrs. Omotunde Ivara Esu, the wife of Cross River state deputy governor, stated this at this year’s festival in Calabar, the State capital city, south-south Nigeria.

Showcasing Nigeria

Mrs. Esu, who represented the wife of the governor, Dr. Linda Ayade, expressed delight that Nigerian women participated in the festival by showcasing the different types of food found across Nigeria.

She stated, “I am so proud of our women and what they are doing to put our cuisines on the map of the world. Our culture is very rich, so is our cuisine; and I am happy that this has become a yearly event”.

“By doing this, we will keep our children focused on African and Nigerian food. We are teaching them to understand that it is not only food from the western world, which nourishes the body. Our own foods equally nourish the body and come fresh from the farm,” stated Esu.

On the cultural appreciation of Nigerian dishes, she argued, “if you check the number of restaurants, eateries and hotels across Nigeria, every eatery now know that they need to have Nigerian dishes; they need to have Nigerian cuisine on their menu. In those days the flare was for fried rice, nowadays we are talking of Ofada rice. We are looking inwards. So, I do not think we have lost it because we are now very conscious”.  

Teaching Values

According to her, the festival is a platform to teach young Nigerian women including Africans the value of cooking and presentations of local dishes, stressing that it was essential for young women to develop culinary skills to provide healthy meals for their future families.

She stated, “even though women are aspiring to be world leaders, our primary assignment stems from the home. This yearly event draws the attention of our daughters on the need to know how to cook, the need for us as mothers to cater for our families. I commend Princess Florence Ita-Giwa for this initiative”.

For her part, the initiator of the festival, Princess Ita-Giwa pinpointed to the essence of sustainability, which has impacted on the food festival, noting that women from the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba communities continue to participate in the event.

Senator Ita-Giwa, who has permanently infused “the Fattening Room Contest” for Miss Africa contestant in the food festival commended the Cross River State government for supporting the initiative.

She stated, “the good thing is that we have sustained this. We are using this opportunity to showcase our culinary prowess. It is common knowledge that we have the best food in the world, the Efik and other Nigerians. That is why we have all these women here and people coming to see the different types of Nigerian dishes on display”.

“We have also written the Miss Africa content into the food festival by introducing the fattening room contest, whereby the winner takes home 3,000 USD for her shopping.

“The girls have eaten our food and have enjoyed it. I hope to have a bigger and better food festival next year”, affirmed the former lawmaker.

This year’s Calabar International Food Festival featured food exhibitions such as Oha soup, Ugba, Massa, Zogele, Tuwo, Amala, Efo riro, Ekpang nkukwo ikon, Edikang Ikong and many more local dishes.

Hauwa Abu