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Afro Fusion Shares Tastes of Africa and Jamaica

Dec. 20, 2016
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Africa’s unique culinary traditions reflect the continent’s vast cultures and groups, and Milwaukee is fortunate to have several options to sample the savory stews, vegetable and meat dishes that comprise African cuisine. Among the latest is Afro Fusion Cuisine, offering African and Jamaican spices, marinades and sauces for the home cook, as well as prepared foods through their café and store, Irie Zulu (7237 W. North Ave.).

Afro Fusion founder Yollande Deacon is from the West African nation of Cameroon, and her husband is from Jamaica. When Deacon moved to Milwaukee in 2001, she sought ways to recreate the flavors of her youth with ingredients available locally. Around 2013, she began selling spice blends at farmers markets and festivals such as Global Union.

Afro Fusion’s product line is gluten- and MSG-free and low sodium. Mama Cita All Purpose Seasoning is a blend of complex flavors that outshines salty commercial brands. The seasoning can be used on meats, tofu or vegetables and can be combined with olive oil to make marinade. The Mama Deacon Jamaican Jerk Seasoning is not for sensitive mouths, yet the flavor is not overwhelmed by heat.

African nutmeg is the star of the West African Jollof Tomato Herb Sauce. Jollof is a one-pot rice dish popular along the western coast of Africa. M’Chuzi Peanut Coconut Curry Sauce celebrates spices popular in East Africa, and Mafe West African Peanut Sauce and Yassa West African Caramelized Onion round out the line of sauces to prepare quick yet healthy meals.

Afro Fusion offers a line of condiments such as a Jamaican jerk barbecue sauce; harissa, a smoky chili pepper paste; and a piri piri hot sauce; and they’ve recently added gourmet sausages.

Gift boxes are available, and Afro Fusion has put together a cookbook of Deacon’s recipes from family and friends. In November 2015, Deacon opened Irie Zulu, an eatery and store that sells spices, sauces and marinades. Meals are served daily from 3-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 3-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“I serve the same type of food I’d eat at home,” Deacon said. “We’re taking African and Jamaican cooking the way I grew up knowing it and making it accessible to our community.”

Appetizers include Irie Zulu jerk wings and South African lamb sosaties bites. Vegans and meat lovers can eat in harmony with choices such as vegan mushroom pepper soup and African spinach stew, or seafood pepper soup and goat style African spinach stew. More exotic options such as Cameroonian kondre chevre (green banana and goat stew) are among rotating specialties subject to seasonal and ingredient availability.

Deacon partners with urban gardens, Growing Power and Wellspring for ingredients. “My view is to support the local environment and to shift the paradigm around ethnic foods, to push the envelope and offer healthy foods with ethnic flavor while still being particular about sustainable ingredients,” she said.

Deacon attended Marquette University as a scholarship recipient, and she believes in giving back. Afro Fusion donates to scholarship programs in the Republic of Chad and Nigeria to help support education for young girls.

In addition to Irie Zulu, Afro Fusion spices and sauces can be purchased online or at Sendik’s, Outpost Natural Foods and the Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market.

For more information, visit afrofusionbrands.com.

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