Health & Fitness 'I moved from Ghana to South London and now I'm making sure people like me never forget their roots through food'

14:21  30 july  2022
14:21  30 july  2022 Source:   mylondon.news

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For those from different ethnic backgrounds, staying in touch with your roots can be difficult especially as someone born and brought up in London. It can be hard to visit the country of your grandparents as often as you would like, but one woman is making sure the African diaspora in the UK stay connected to their culture through food.

Joana Yeboah-Acheampong from South London grew up in Ghana until the age of 18, her childhood was filled with memories centred around food and cooking. When she moved to the UK she realised she wanted her own kids to enjoy the same recipes and same connection she had.

Speaking to MyLondon, Joana said: "I was born in Ghana and when I was 18 I moved to Botswana to do my A Levels. Eventually I migrated to the UK and studied civil engineering and graduated with a BSC. Engineers were being sought after in the UK when I came over."

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The mum of three was born and brought up in Ghana © MyLondon The mum of three was born and brought up in Ghana

"In Ghana my childhood memories were about living with my parents and six other siblings, plus my cousins and extended family members," she added. "We had a big family so my mum always encouraged us to cook at home. She was type of person who would ask for street food recipes as we loved street food. Ghana is known for street food and you can get breakfast, lunch and dinner in the street all day.

"She would always ask for recipes from street food sellers and ask us to replicate them. During Christmas and the holidays it was a time for us to have fun and cook, as well as my mum's birthday on January 1, we always cooked and I loved it. We would share while cooking, stories from boarding house that my siblings had come back from.

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"We loved having competitions about who has learnt a new skill or new recipe. It was all part of the memories."

When Joana came to London she missed her connection to food. As a mum-of-three boys she felt she wanted to replicate her life back home, but she didn't know how. As a full time engineer, she decided she needed to rethink her career. "Working became hectic when I had my first two kids, plus my husband was working 9-5 as well and it was difficult to find childcare. We also didn't have that family support as most of our friends were in the same situation so it was not practical.

"I thought what can I do, I wanted something new and I loved cooking but I didn't see what I could do. What also stuck out to me was during maternity leave in 2009, there were a lot of stabbings of young Black male children and most were from West Africa, Ghana or Nigeria. I could tell they had lost their identity and they didn't belong here or back home as they had lost their connection," she said.

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You can buy spices to recreate Ghana Jollof and Suya Steak © Aftrad Village Kitchen You can buy spices to recreate Ghana Jollof and Suya Steak

With a love for food and being business minded, Joana felt she could use this to make a chance. To top it off, she had also recently lost her mum who had been a huge part of her cooking journey - she decided to get back into cooking which had taken a backseat while she studied and worked.

She said: "I wanted my kids to have an identity, they need to know their culture and where they come from. I needed to get recipes down as back home we handed them over by watching, word of mouth or judgement - nothing was documented. So I thought ok I need to leave something for my kids and help others.

"So I started a blog about Ghanian food and wanted to create products but had no clue about food industry in the UK yet. I knew there were food laws but didn't know what to do. While researching I thought I will start blogging to get people interested. I also hosted cooking classes."

Aftrad Village Kitchen has a range of sauces and spices © Aftrad Village Kitchen Aftrad Village Kitchen has a range of sauces and spices

Between 2009 and 2016, Joana had lot of thoughts in her head. She had gone back to work but in 2015 realised she could not do a full time job in civil engineering as she was struggling to focus and be there as a mum and a wife. From 2015 to 2017 she took blogging seriously and educated people about Ghanian food, telling the stories behind it and information about the ingredients.

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In 2016-2017 she finally launched her first products called 'national spices' which is used in Ghanian cooking. The spice is a combination for Jollof rice. Since then she has been creating products for her own brand, Aftrad Village Kitchen.

You can check out the website here.


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A study of more than 70,000 elderly Britons found that those who ate the most ultra-processed junk food were 43 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who ate the least. The biggest junk food fanatics ate 810g per day, the equivalent weight of wo-and-a-half pizzas, while the least ate 225g per day — around four Mars bars WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE? • Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.

usr: 0
This is interesting!