April 15, 2024

More African cuisine is needed onboard

Bongi Tshazi, Commercial Director at GIC International Catering, is a South African living in Germany and argues that more African cuisine should be served aboard international flights.

In today’s globalised world, air travel offers a remarkable opportunity to experience diverse cultures and their culinary treasures. However, one notable absence persists on many airline menus – the underrepresentation of African cuisine.

One key reason for the lack of African cuisine on airline menus is the limited awareness and preconceived notions surrounding it. Many passengers and airlines may be unfamiliar with the breadth and depth of African culinary traditions, often associating it with a few well-known dishes, such as jollof rice or injera. This lack of exposure perpetuates stereotypes and hampers the exploration of the vast array of flavours and ingredients present in African cuisine.

Diversity in African cuisine

The diverse nature of African cuisine, with its regional variations and ingredients, poses logistical challenges for airlines. Sourcing authentic African ingredients on a global scale and ensuring a consistent supply chain may be more complex compared to other cuisines. The challenges can be overcome through partnerships, collaborations with local suppliers and commitment to promoting cultural authenticity.

Another obstacle to including African cuisine on airline menus is the scarcity of trained chefs with expertise in African culinary traditions. Airlines must invest in developing the necessary culinary expertise to curate menus that authentically represent the flavours of Africa.

By establishing training programmes and fostering collaborations with African culinary experts, airlines can build a skilled workforce capable of delivering outstanding African culinary experiences.

Palm heart and smoked marlin, an example of the delicious African cuisine that is a delicacy in Mauritius.
Palm heart and smoked marlin, served at Maradiva Villas Resort and Spa, an example of delicious African cuisine and a delicacy in Mauritius.

Celebrating culinary heritage

Airlines have an incredible opportunity to celebrate cultural diversity and showcase the culinary heritage of Africa through their inflight dining offerings. By including African cuisine on their menus, airlines can represent the cultures of the destinations they serve while catering to the growing number of passengers seeking authentic culinary experiences. Such inclusivity promotes cultural exchange, fosters understanding and enhances overall customer satisfaction.

African cuisine represents centuries-old culinary traditions, passed down through generations. By including African dishes on airline menus, we honour and preserve this invaluable heritage. Promoting African cuisine helps safeguard traditional cooking techniques, unique spice blends, and rare ingredients, ensuring their survival for future generations.

African cuisine onboard

Introducing African cuisine to airline menus could even serve as a catalyst for tourism to the African continent. By tantalising passengers’ taste buds with authentic flavours during flights, airlines can inspire travellers to explore the culinary scenes as well as the landscapes of Africa. This, in turn, boosts local economies, supports small-scale food producers and encourages sustainable tourism development.

Inflight dining is an opportunity to transcend borders and bridge cultural gaps. By featuring African cuisine, airlines foster cross-cultural connections allowing passengers to experience aspects of the richness and diversity of African cultures. Such interactions lead to mutual understanding, appreciation and a celebration of our shared humanity.

African cuisine is a treasure waiting to be discovered by airline passengers. It is time for airlines to soar above new culinary horizons and embrace African cuisine.