Food Feature: Kamnicona for Africa

Chef Patrice Kamden, originally from Cameroon in West Africa came to South Africa 10 years ago.

He was trained at Cefor Hotellierie Ecole Internationale de Cuisine.

For a long time he was the sous chef at Pretoria’s premier Belgian restaurant La Madeleine. La Madeleine is Pretoria’s ultimate palace of European posh nosh.

Author of Eat-Ting, Anna Trapido shares her experience of what she says is an authentic Cameroonian restaurant with hearty food.

What is intriguing about Cameroonian food is that it is rarely accessible, it is very easy to learn how to like it, it is not a taste that you have to acquire.

Anna Trapido, author

He has got a specifically Cameroonian set of spices, and the one he showed me is called rondal and the other is pepe.

Anna Trapido, author

DESCRIPTION OF HIS EATERY

• About a year ago he decided to go back to his culinary roots and he opened Kamnicona in Arcadia.

• Don’t go expecting La Madeleine style ambiance. The eatery it looks like a take away - a glass counter at the front, menu on the wall and couple of melanin tables. The area is safe but not salubrious - on Thursday nights the club across the road has pole dancing…

• Essentially it is a bistro in the true sense of the word. Classic, hearty food, well prepared with skill and care from good ingredients in an unpretentious setting.

WHAT CAN YOU EAT?

• Cameroonian food is very easily accessible even for first time eaters. It is an experience not unlike trying Thai food for the first time. You might not know it but you instantly like it. It is aromatic rather than hot and spicy.

• Don’t go expecting posh plating – this is not an instagram moment but everything is hearty and delicious and made with great ingredients.

YOU CAN EAT NOSE TO TAIL:

• The term ‘nose to tail’ is foodie-speak for a waste minimizing philosophy of farming, cooking and eating in which every possible part of an animal is consumed.

• The funny thing is foodies behave as if they invented this way of eating when obviously that is nonsense.

• Eating internal organs and body parts that are recognizably derived from an actual animal (think feet, brains etc) was once the norm in almost all culinary cultures but in the past 50 years industrialised farming and modern food retail systems have caused the international English speaking elites to abandon such consumption patterns.

• This is not only wasteful but also deprives us of the taste.

• This is true for most South African suburban supermarkets but of course not true of township butcheries who do a roaring trade in what Eurocentric eaters think of as ‘the ugly bits’.

• At Kamnicona everything the animal was is now on the menu – nose to tail, heart to intestine and feet.

PROPER FARM ‘HARD BODY’ CHICKEN

A proper chicken has lived a life and you can tell in its taste and texture. At Kamnicona the chickens are rich and flavourful. They don’t have that tasteless, slimy quality of supermarket chicken.

INTREGUING FLAVOURS FROM SPICES I HADNT COME ACROSS BEFORE.

The chef uses a lot of indigenous Cameroonian spices. The two that he showed me were called Pepe and Rondelle. They added an aromatic almost pepper, almost ginger, almost nutmeg but not quite any of those tastes to his food.

SO, WHAT I ATE: (meal came to R100 a head)

• Brochette - little flame grilled kebabs of chicken hearts marinated in Rondelle and Pepe

• Beignet coci- sort of like spicy magwinya but made with beans rather than wheat flour.

• Baton de manioc (steamed cassava ‘bread’) with hardbody chicken cooked with tomato and plantain as poulet DG (ie poulet director general)

Click on the link below to listen to the full audio....

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