People connect to their cultural or ethnic group through similar food patterns.
Immigrants often use food as a means of retaining their cultural identity.
People from different cultural backgrounds eat different foods.
The ingredients, methods of preparation, preservation techniques, and types of food eaten at different meals vary among cultures.
The areas in which families live— and where their ancestors originated—influence food likes and dislikes.
These food preferences result in patterns of food choices within a cultural or regional group.
Nations or countries are frequently associated with certain foods. For example, many people associate Italy with pizza and pasta.
It is against this background that the Sunbird Tourism Limited group places emphasis on promoting local cuisines.
And with this in mind, Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel has attracted a massive response from its patrons after it introduced traditional Thursdays where it serves local dishes in its restaurant as a way of promoting Malawian culture.
Among the dishes served are delicacies are dzombe, mphalabungu, chikande, telele, bonongwe, thobwa and other local delicacies which are in season at that particular time.
The hotel’s general manager Virginia Mahata has said that since the introduction of the Traditional Thursdays, the hotel has been overwhelmed with the response from people that the hotel also serves an alla carte of the same throughout the day.
She further said that based on the response from the customers, the hotel may consider serving traditional dishes every day.
Said Mahata: “Every Thursday, we are overwhelmed by the number of people who come to eat in our restaurant; the response has been quite good and I believe that this is the kind of service people need only that they have not been provided with it in the past.”
One of the customers James Banda, who had nsima with mphalabungu, hailed the hotel for introducing a day where people are assured of finding local food in the hotel’s restaurant.
Banda, who was attending to a conference at the hotel, said that the development reminds him of what he had been seeing in other countries where one is assured of accessing their local food even in most exotic hotels.
Said Banda, “I have travelled around the world in my line of duty and it breaks my heart to notice that here in Malawi, hotels and reputable restaurant’s had no desire to serve local dishes. Today, the mphalabungu I have had has reminded me of my home village and I have enjoyed the meal.”
The Thursday service is accompanied by the restaurant staff wearing traditional attire and as the patrons devour the local meals of their choice they are also entertained by an acoustic band playing local music.
As it turns out, Thursday at Sunbird Lilongwe has been made a day of total Malawian local experience.
Mahata also hinted that in future all hotel staff at the hotel shall be wearing traditional clothing for uniform.
Recently, President Peter Mutharika declared that, as a way of demonstrating his government’s commitment to local culture and businesses, all civil servants should wear traditional clothes every Friday apart form eating local meals.
He dubbed the day as Malawi Friday.
According to Mahata, it is high time Malawian businesses started promoting ideas whose intention is to promote Malawian culture because no foreigner is going to come here to do that on our behalf.
In her words, the more that is done the more the Malawi’s modern generation is going to be acquainted with their roots and helped not to lose their identity in the name of development. n