In the world of creativity and making symbols, new hybrid genres and forms emerge frequently. It makes sense that each person who creates objects on a regular basis will draw inspiration from a source. For new ideas to work, presentation and context need to be taken into consideration.
I went to a restaurant in central London that aimed to present Nigerian food in a new light. I was greeted by a maitre d of European heritage. On a surface level, I shouldn’t have felt uneasy about him being the host in this context, but this fellow didn’t seem to understand the social codes that would reassure someone who was familiar with the aforementioned cuisine. Perhaps his manner would have been fine for a tourist, or someone who was trying the food out for the first time.
Immediately, I started wondering whether or not I had made a mistake in visiting the restaurant in the first place. Everything the maitre d said to me came across as awkward or incoherent. At the heart of the matter, he didn’t know how to create the atmosphere that I would have felt comfortable in.
I went against my instincts and ordered a meal. The food was brought to me and it looked palatable. Sadly, I cannot say I enjoyed the eating experience.
The masterminds behind the venture obviously had an idea that they were going to do things differently, but there is only so much one can do to put a new spin on meal recipes that a whole culture is aware of. A full English breakfast or Sunday lunch is too specific in too many people’s minds to be pulled off in a radical reworking. The same applies to many dishes from other cultures.