That Time Jamie Oliver Made “Jollof Rice” #JollofGate

 

Yes, guys, it finally happened – they finally got their hands on Jollof rice!

Some context for those who don’t know what Jollof rice is: Jollof rice is one of the 7 wonders of Africa. The list goes: Nelson Mandela, Cape Town, Jollof Rice, Senegalese Twists, Lupita Nyong’o, Shea Butter, and P Square. People might disagree with this list (feel free to add your own list in the comments section. Don’t curtly state your disagreement and move on, ok? Don’t be rude), but the point is that Jollof rice is a BIG deal.(Horrible) songs have been written about Jollof rice. Case in point: this god-awful song by Fuse ODG:

 

Jollof rice has even caused  a diplomatic tension/Cold War of sorts between Nigeria and Ghana over who actually owns this dish (it actually originated in Senegal, but I’m sleep).

 

In Nigeria, Jollof rice is sacred. It is not just the holy grail, it is also the way the truth and the life. Jollof rice is who we are, it is woven into our social tapestry; if a Nigerian invites you to a social gathering and doesn’t serve Jollof rice, he/she hates you and might have sociopathic tendencies (Listen, I don’t make the rules).  You might find this canonization of RICE to be weird. You might sit there and smugly say “is it not JUST rice?” Well, no, it isn’t. It isn’t just rice, you blasphemer; it is JOLLOF rice!

Now that I’ve given you some context, you can then understand why my Twitter timeline went into an apocalyptic uproar this past week, when Jamie Oliver (yes, THE Jamie Oliver) posted his Jollof rice recipe.

You see, Jollof rice is meant to look like this:

Source: Lohi's Creations
Not exactly sure why this heap of Jollof rice is capped with a  plantain hashtag. People hashtag everything. EVEN rice. Smh.

Jollof rice is supposed to be reassuring in its plainness. You should see a plate of Jollof rice, sitting in its sunset-orange glory, and immediately know what you’re looking at. This is the essence of Jollof rice – its predictability and lack of complication.

However, this is Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice:

I don’t even know where to begin. This, whatever this is, is a sensory overload

Nigerians/Ghanaians were furious!

It all started in the comments section:

Like, this person brought in their ancestors. He/She went THERE. You can see that this is not a joke
Like, this person brought up their ancestors. He/She went THERE. You can see that this is not a joke
This is an actual threat. I told you jollof rice is a diety.
This is an actual threat. I told you Jollof rice is a deity
Priorities
Priorities
Even Namibia weighed in. It was a continental emergency.
Even Namibia weighed in. It was a continental emergency

 

Someone even claimed that Jamie had Iggy Azalea-ed Jollof rice. Yes, it got that tense. Gloves came off.

It was deep, guys. We almost called in Iyanla Vanzant to bully-yell everybody into tranquility. There was basically a Twitter village square meeting, and the Nigerians and Ghanaians were not having it. And for good reason. How can you gentrify Jollof rice to the extent that it starts looking like paella? Sacrilege! We can share our children (Hi Brangelina, Madonna, or whichever latest Hollywood star just ordered their very own collectible in the form of an African child), our animals (for your life-changing, perspective-moulding Safaris), and our head-ties that you re-fashion into “urban head wraps”, but we will not share our Jollof rice *bangs gavel*

On a more serious note, I really don’t know how I feel about this issue. Some people claim that this is a clear case of appropriation, but I don’t know that I would make such an extreme claim. I mean, the guy didn’t claim to make Jollof rice, he openly admitted to adding his own twist on the recipe.

My main issue with this entire situation is that Jamie Oliver (or whoever wrote this) described Jollof rice as a “concept”—of ALL the bland nouns in the English vocabulary, you came up with “concept”? I mean, really???—, as though it is an abstraction that we believe in but can’t see. Excuse you, Jollof rice is as real as it gets! How would you feel if I described Thanksgiving turkey as a “concept”? Perplexed? Slightly insulted? Exactly, thought so.

 

 

 

Image Sources: Lohi’s Creations, Jamie Oliver, The Guardian

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155 thoughts on “That Time Jamie Oliver Made “Jollof Rice” #JollofGate

    • I liked the caption under the picture. Chai they are hashtagging rice with plantain. Funny and informative post just like the rest of your musings.

  1. Countries across Africa don’t make Jollof rice in the exact same way but then some people want to stone the man for having his own interpretation of the dish? Love the wit and humour in your article but some other people take it way..way…WAY too far :/ Don’t see Chinese people suing chefs for basically flipping their recipes upside down cos Lord knows most of what we enjoy here has been revamped for an English palate and is not their authentic cuisine. Rant over.

    • Who the hell cares what Chinese people do?! Anyway, you don’t see them complain because they are the ones who made up those bootleg recipes!!! They are the kings and queens of bootlegging! We can be mad if we want to be! We don’t have to look to outsiders for permission!

  2. even worse, Jamie Oliver’s recipe was inspired by the World Cup?! Which Ghanaian (or Nigerian) wants to remember our rather woeful World Cup showing while eating jollof rice???

  3. Jamie this is a real twist to what we now as the Sunrise and Sunset of West Africa You can’t miss the firey orange hues gotten from the bell peppers. From the rising and setting of the day jollof adorns street corners lavish homes and banquets Jollof is our identity please don’t abuse it.

  4. When people are strategising on how to create maximum chaos, diseases, backwardness, corruption, and general stagnation among us (Africans and Arabs), so they can control our resources and keep us subjugated, we are gleefully fighting a jollof rice war??? How ingenious?

    • I beg to differ. This how it will start gradually…then it will be “Oliver’s rice” on the menus. In case you did not know, an American actress, Bo Derek, sported cornrow hairstyle. She is white so you could imagine the look of cornrow on her. Within weeks, it became known as Bo Derek’s hairstyle. It is subtle but the message is that no black should receive an acknowledgment of their inventions. The only way my great great grandmother wore her hair was cornrow.

  5. Jolof was from st louis in senegal n the first lady to cook Jolof rise nam is penda mbye n it original name is bainachain penda mbye mean one pot the lady trib is wolof n where the wolof originally came from jolof n jolof is in only senegal n gambia ground u can go ahead n find out the wolof them self call it bainachinne penda mbaye thas the first person the invent it a senegalis lady from where u have one the african premier league footballer nam elhaji Diouf come from the st louis that was the first capital of senegal befor dakar guys its all I can tell u about do your research n find out brother n sister but at the end of the day these orther nation remix it a bit tho n then could not still take way the original name from it

  6. the comments are interesting reading for sure. just one thing to say…..jamie oliver is british. thanksgiving turkey is american and as someone who has lived in both of those countries, i can say it is a bit conceptual 😛

  7. For me, it’s not just about the ridiculous attempt to preparing whatever that was, but the crisp writing and wit. Good job; I’m a fan!

  8. This was a great read, Lol! I laughed so hard I 😂😂😂. I love the passion we have for the dishes of our continent. Here is Egunsifoods take on this all important & classic dish, check it out on our Instagram or Facebook page… http://instagram.com/yemisiawosan, http://www.facebook.com/egunsifoods

    How do you make your own Jollof Rice? Couple of weeks ago there was an uproar in the African, especially the West African community about Jamie Oliver’s attempt on Jollof Rice! The famous party dish that is sure to be served at any West African party you attend with its not to be out shined by its famous accompaniments Moi Moi and African style fried chicken. Having heard both sides of the argument, Jamie’s take on Jollof Rice and the purist wanting to keep the authenticity of this classic dish. I for one am for creating your own version, or fusion, BUT I do think when it comes to certain cuisines that are not well know YET, I believe it is best to keep it as pure and classic as its origin so that those tasting it for the first time can get the true flavor, experience of the original – authenticity. What good is it if you’ve never tried African, Chinese, Indian, etc. cuisines and the first time you try it, it not true to its authenticity. You get inaccurate impression, right? So all the more why some in the African community seem up in arms about preserving the authenticity, accurate image, flavor and experience of this dish for those foodies or food enthusiasts trying it for the first time. Here is Egunsifoods’s version of Jollof Rice, this is true and true in keeping with the flavor and authenticity of Jollof Rice, but using cooking techniques that are familiar to most, while Connecting The Dot to her not so far off cousin. Our version, Jollof Rice Paella. Bon Appetite!
    📌Yield: 6 Servings
    Total Time: 1 hr 10 min
    Prep Time: 10 Min
    Inactive Time: 0 Min
    Cook Time: 1 hr
    🌟In a sauce pan, add sliced 1 Plum Tomato + 1 Red Pepper + 1/4 Onion + 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper + 1/2 Cup of Water and let boil over medium heat for 20 Min, then blend. Set aside. 🌟Add 1/4 Tps of Salt + 1/4 Tps Freshly ground Black Pepper to 6 pcs of Drum sticks & thighs. In a cast iron frying pan, add 1 Tbl of Oil or Chicken Fat & heat up, then add Chicken. Sear each side about 3 min/side, set aside. Add 1 sliced Chorizo sausage and sauté. Set aside. 🌟In the cast iron frying pan, pour 2 Tbls Oil + 2 Tbls Butter and let melt. Add 2 1/2 Cups of Rice + 1/4 Onion + 1 Tps Curry + 1/4 tsp Dry Thyme, let sauté for 5 min. Mix into Rice 1 Tbls Tomato Paste + blended Tomato, etc. + 2 1/2 Cups of unsalted Chicken Broth + 1 Tps of Salt. *If using bullion cube you can add at this point, but use less Salt. Let seamer for 5 min. 🌟Add rest of 1 Tps Curry + 1/4 Tps Dry Thyme into Rice. Place seared Chicken + 6 Prawns into Rice. Also arrange on top of Rice sliced 1/4 Onion + 1/2 Beefsteak Tomatoes + 1/4 Green Peas. 🌟Cover and place in 350 degree oven and let cook for 30 min.

  9. So I found out during assembly today that you’re an ALA alumni. I’ve come across your blog a couple of times. Ms Wilson would be proud. 😀 I’m Naana from Ghana.

  10. Jollof Rice is a good dish i am anxiously waiting for the time i will have the opportunity of eating it. It is a good food to eat now.

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