It is no longer news that Nigerian politician, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, has opened a restaurant, Echoes of Calabar, in Lagos.
In a chat with our correspondent, Ita-Giwa said cooking had always been a form of therapy for her. She stated, “I enjoy cooking a lot and I don’t see it as work. For now, I feel it is something more relaxing than politics. This is the third month I have been fully into the restaurant business without being involved in politics. People often tell me that I am looking younger and I tell them that it is because I am doing what I enjoy. I enjoy interacting with people and I am a foodie. I can travel anywhere to eat a special meal.”
She insisted that even as a Senator, she cooked for her colleagues in government.
She noted, “I am a Calabar woman and we cook well. I say it openly that people always misunderstand Calabar women. A Calabar woman has the ability to multitask. She can run her home, look after her children and work at the same time.
“Even as a Senator, my colleagues would visit me to eat. But before I went to the Senate, I was running two pharmaceutical companies. I had to shut them down because I didn’t want to go through that route again.”
According to her, by opening Echoes of Calabar, she is contributing to the wellbeing of Nigerians. Ita-Giwa stated, “We cook exceptionally good African and continental dishes. We are very careful about the ingredients we use, but the public does not know this. We take care of our palm oil and we don’t use ordinary salt. We also lay much emphasises on seafood. I cannot eat fish from Lagos water because of pollution; so, the fish comes from the fresh water of Bakassi. Twice a week, we fly in fresh fish.”
Mama Bakassi, as fondly called by well-wishers, maintained that she was not in a competition with anyone. She noted, “I am not in a competition with anyone; I am just here to make people happy and relaxed. We get almost everything we use here from Calabar, including the cooks, and it makes the difference.”