Teleported to Palatable Tranquillity
“When we taste food, the brain creates a flavour profile based on the information that we feed into it by means of our tongue and taste buds, our eyes and our noses.”
The much loved corner in Windhoek where arts, culture and music came alive now has not only a new team backing it up but also a new component to add to their offering. That new component is food that not only comes alive but also makes you come alive at Jojo’s Music and Arts Café.
Adding to the already laid back and funky vibe we’ve come to know and love at Jojo’s is the addition of truly innovative Namibian cuisine. 99FM’s MYD Art was invited to taste and experience what exactly this means and what was uncovered was exquisitely crafted dishes that challenge your understanding of what Namibian dishes could and should be. What was also uncovered was an original use of uniquely Namibian ingredients prepared in a way that excites that senses and astound the mind.
To “take you travelling through food, music, art and atmosphere” is what the new owners at Jojo’s are offering, however what we noticed was that this travel included a tour within to a place of bliss brought on by a gastronomical extravaganza.
To understand how one can be teleported to tranquillity through food, 99FM’s MYD Art spoke to one of the new owners at Jojo’s, Christie Keulder, who explained “When we taste food, the brain creates a flavour profile based on the information that we feed into it by means of our tongue and taste buds, our eyes and our noses. So the taste buds provide information through the back of the brain, the nose through the front of the brain and the eyes serve as a third component of recognising or confirming. So if we take the eyes out for the configuration and we rely only on the nose and the mouth, it becomes more and more difficult for people to understand what they taste.”
“Our flavour profiles are a combination of all the bits of information that we collect over years. So the more you eat, the better you’ll be able to taste. It’s not the quality of the taste buds that’s necessarily determining how we experience our food but rather the ability of the brain to recognise what it is receiving. Considering that we can smell a lot more smells than we can taste, it is a whole collaboration that allows us to experience food. To put this in perspective, we work with five tastes but we have hundreds more smells that we can smell. So the information that we receive is all being processed in our computers, our brains. An example of how this works is that people who get Alzheimer’s lose the ability to taste. This is not because the quality of the taste buds are deteriorating or that the information isn’t coming through the nose but their loss in taste is happening because the brain is no longer in command of those flavour profiles. This is why memories are such important components of eating. We recognise tastes and smells from many years ago and we also associate food with comfort. Let’s use the example of your mother’s apple tart. Experiments have been down that show that when you put people on a monotonous diet of say three vanilla milkshakes a day then after a few days peoples brains will light up in depravation, and it would be the same areas of the brain with nearly the same intensity, as somebody trying to kick a narcotic habit. Which is why these diets often fail. We simply do not have the mechanisms to stick them out. And what people would do then, when they go into these serious states of deprivation is they start looking for comfort and then that is when they start cravings. ‘I crave my mother’s apple tart’. It’s not so much the food, it’s the comfort. The food you eat then feeds the memory and the comfort. I call it a food hug. And every once in a while we all need those food hugs. ”
Preparing the food hugs and other such delights at Jojo’s Music and Arts Café are the crème de la crème of award winning chefs. Head Chef, David Thomas, has won the Namibian Chef of the Year competition a total of four times and Sous Chef, Jo-Andri Pretorius, who came third overall in the Namibian Junior Chef competition and was a member of the Namibian Junior Chef team who won the Africa Culinary Cup last year.
When asked how they will be incorporating this understanding into the food they will be prepared Christie explains that, “The idea is to play around with senses and get people to engage more than just one sense. We’re looking at how to introduce smells as an ingredient so to say, without it being on the plate. So I want to give you a particular smell together with your food to provoke a particular memory. But I don’t necessarily want to put that smell on a plate. For example a lot of people have very fond memories associated with the smell of leather but you don’t want to find leather on your plate. So it’s all about finding these new ideas, finding new ways to introduce these alternative components to your meal.”
According to Christie, the idea is to get the brain involved in the process of your meal by “triggering your memories, to get you to that point where you say aah, now it makes sense to me. Because we want to keep pushing and see how far we can go for the benefit of a great experience.”
A great experience indeed, and this is what awaits you at Jojo’s Music and Arts Café where the new owners, Christie Keulder, Mike Ott and Aleksandra Orbeck-Nilssen are ready to provide you a meal that is “full of innovation yet rooted in our local food cultures”. You could also join in for one of their culinary journeys where you’ll be taken on a journey to explore food from around the world. Whichever you choose, know that you will be “surprised and entertained” and that “you will be asked to surrender all of your senses to the creative endeavours of our local culinary superstars. Where you will experience the innovative techniques and new ingredients that currently define modernist cuisine and see them applied to our local specialties.”
Jojo’s Music and Arts Café is open daily for lunch and dinner, you’ll find them at the Old Breweries Complex in Windhoek
Click here for their Facebook page: Jojos Music and Arts Café