When Marvel dropped their film, Black Panther, in 2018, it was met by an immense celebration from the Black community that unsurprisingly caused the film to bank over a billion dollars in ticket sales. Black Panther became the top grossing superhero film ever, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The storyline of King T’Challa protecting his fictional kingdom, the technologically advanced society of Wakanda, from outsiders resonated with the comic book fanbase, many of whom tried to submit their passports to visit the exclusive African destination.
While the possibility of traveling to an imaginary Wakanda is not plausible, chef Nyanyika Banda created a cookbook to provide enthusiasts with a culinary trip to the mythical nation, Today reports.
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Banda, a Malawian American who earned Culinary Degree from Madison College in 2012, concocted 70 recipes to make up “The Official Wakanda Cookbook” and did so within three months, it is now available since April 12.
“I definitely felt a combination of pressure and pride,” said Banda to The Washington Post. She is also a freelance writer. “The lore of Black Panther and what Wakanda means now socially is so important, not just for Black Americans but to people of African descent around the world.”
Before signing on with Marvel to work on the project, Banda consumed various Black Panther comics and immersed herself in fan-created websites to gain a deeper understanding of the characters and the country of Wakanda rather than solely relying on the film.
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Jennifer Simms, Banda’s editor at Insight Editions, the publisher of the Wakanda cookbook, didn’t want the recipes to represent a generic Africa, “We wanted to make sure we weren’t trying to represent Africa as having one food culture,” she says.
Both women worked closely with Marvel’s team to produce dishes that upheld the storytelling of the comic book.
“We would talk about whether or not they felt like it would be a part of Wakanda,” said Banda. “I wanted there to be integrity within the dish, but also have integrity in terms of storytelling.”
Through her research, Banda’s recipes reflected the folklore of Wakandan culture. For instance, Wakanda boasts a lake, so Banda considered creating fish dishes. According to the Marvel comics, Wakanda is situated in sub-Saharan Africa, where food items like cassava, mangoes, and meat from goats would be plentiful. Also taken from the film where tribal leader M’Baku barks at the CIA agent character and threatens to feed him to his children but quips that he’s a vegetarian, inspired Banda to develop dishes that included eggplants and herbs.
For the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female military warriors, Banda was motivated to invent a smoked mushroom jerky, “I imagined it would be something that would be fueling but that would carry well,” she says, The Washington Post reports.
Banda also designed a savory sweet and spicy oxtail with cassava dumplings, okra fritters, basbousa, a creamy cake, and a tamarind cola to wash down the Wakandan cuisine, according to Today.
“I think that’s such a beautiful part of (Wakanda) being this fictional place,” she remarked. “Definitely, the impact that ‘Black Panther’ has socially right now for us, and this time and age was always something that I was like taking consideration to when thinking about the recipes.”