Featured Photo: Fried plantains sit atop a bowl of peppered chicken gizzards served by the Pacemakers, an African food vendor at the Shreveport Farmers’ Market.
One of the joys of the Fall edition of the Shreveport Farmers’ Market is the unpredictable variety of vendors who show up, seemingly out of the blue, late in the season. One such vendor, an African food booth staffed by two young people representing a charitable organization called the Pacemakers, debuted at the Nov. 7 Shreveport Farmers’ Market and will return to the market each Saturday until the end of the 2015 season. Selling delicious food to raise funds and awareness for their organization, Pacemakers team members Daniel Ukpabi and Dena Moses don’t have a sign or a menu, but they’re hard to miss in their colorful dashiki tunics.
“We try to introduce a new food every Saturday,” Ukpabi told me. At the Nov. 14 farmers’ market, the Pacemakers booth will serve a spicy African stir-fry dish made with chicken gizzards and beef, as well as fried plantains, Nigerian egusi soup (a dish that, I’m guessing, has never been served to the public in Shreveport-Bossier) and a hot beverage that Ukpabi referred to as “chocolate tea.” A $5 donation will get you a sample of the Pacemakers’ food. Proceeds will be dedicated towards the fledgling Pacemakers non-profit, which aims to improve the lives of the poor and needy in Shreveport-Bossier.
Ukpabi told me that he immigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria when he was 16 years old, for the purpose of getting an education. He recently completed a medical technology program at LSU Health Sciences Center and now works at North Caddo Medical Center in Vivian.
“Next year we want to open a food truck and introduce a line of clothes to raise funds and keep on doing what we’re doing,” Ukpabi told me.
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If you like authentic, local eats, please consider downloading the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau’s new guide to local food, Eat Here.