Zoe Adjonyoh's Ghanian Dinner Party Is All About the Music (& Jollof Fried Chicken)

Zoe Adjonyoh's Ghanian dinner party is all about the music (& Jollof fried chicken).

10/22/2021 4:02:00 PM

Zoe Adjonyoh's Ghanian dinner party is all about the music (& Jollof fried chicken).

Adjonyoh's festive, delicious feast menu includes Jollof fried chicken, spinach & agushi curry, and the West African street snack puff puff.

When you’re"half" Irish,"half" Ghanaian and British, and also a new American immigrant, what does a dinner party look like? No, not a hot mess. Food is many things, and one of the most important things it is for me is a reference to the core of who I am, who and where I belong to, who and where I have been. Despite the incongruous geography that might otherwise set cultures apart, in both my Irish and Ghaniana ancestral roots there are in common: deep colonial oppression; religious fervor; that"it takes a village" mentality with family as a core centre; great music; great dancing; great storytelling and oral traditions filled with lore and fable; and great cuisine, despite the lack of a"respected" or lauded culinary canon. These are all the things that subconsciously speak to me when designing a dinner party and menu.

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Ain't no dinner party like a Ghana Kitchen dinner party.The gorgeous team at Food52 have thumbed and interrogated my cookbook,Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, to pull together a seasonal feast for fall that could be met anywhere in the states and feel familiar to anyone from west Africa, in particular Ghana. This menu does everything I hope this cookbook does: It brings together the traditional, the familiar, and the reimagined in simple, accessible ways. It reminds you to put your heart into your cooking and discover the ever-evolving nature of Ghaniana cuisines, thanks to the many Ghanaian chefs around the continent and in the diaspora, who are bringing you their part of Africa on a plate.

For some people, it starts with the ingredients; for me, it starts with the guests. The people I am feeding: Who are they? What might their story be? What’s their background? What do I think they know and what do I not know about them? Do I need to persuade or engage? Or headtopics.com

reengage? Do I need to reimagine to give inspiration, or throw it down family-style for familiar feels? The menu has to fit the audience, which is why my cookbook is so flexible in that regard. It’s important to meet your guests where they are, particularly when it comes to challenging or coaxing their palette toward a cuisine they may not have encountered before. It’s just as important when presenting to the West African or Ghanaian diaspora to share novel ways to experience a familiar dish. Behind it all is the human who will make communion with the food on the plate.

After considering the guests, seasonality and sustainability are everything! How can it not be in a world that is on its last strike as regards climate change and a reckoning of power dynamics within food systems caused by white supremacy? If you’re not living in a food desert (and let's be real, it’s unlikely you are if you’re reading this), then getting seasonal with this menu should be pretty straightforward. Music is important, too, as a soundtrack for cooking and eating. I even have a handy Spotify playlist in the book. The essence of Ghana, through its rhythms and lyrics, will infuse your dining environment with the atmosphere of the country and automatically put you and your guests in a good mood. This is essential. If you cook in a bad mood, your food will taste like a bad mood.

When table setting, I always purposely intermingle guests, often separating larger familiar groups so that they are encouraged to co-create the dining experience with a stranger next to them. Flowers always bring joy! Go wild. Candles are great too—that flickering light sets the table as an altar of good business. This isn’t about white plates and white linen. I encourage mix and match plates and cutlery. I like them secondhand, bringing with their own stories and whispers. Rebel against the status quo of what is deemed “high end” and valuable. Reimagine your own Michelin-starred venue, and create your own standard for joie de vie.

Medassi Pa—it’s Ghana be tasty! Read more: Food52 »

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