No, they didn’t actually meet under a baobab tree. Victor Matekole, originally from Manchester, arrived in Berlin after stints in the Netherlands, France and Ukraine. It was here that he met Hungarian-born Györgyi Bòka at Adidas, where they both worked, and today they are married and live with their two sons. Their third baby is the restaurant Meet me by the Baobab tree, which opened in 2017. Although there aren’t that many baobab trees in Matekole’s parents’ homeland of Ghana, according to Ghanaian folk tales, the baobab is a place where people meet. It’s fitting for this spot on Wedding’s Soldiner Straße, where neighbors come to chat and eat, and a large space behind the dining room hosts concerts and events (when there’s not a lockdown, that is). The interior is lovingly designed and, like Wedding, is funky, creative and completely unpretentious.
The dishes originate only indirectly from West Africa: Matekole and Bòka were schooled on the cuisine by their Ghanaian neighbor in Berlin. Baobab serves many vegan and vegetarian dishes you’d find in Accra today like the authentic jollof with sweet potatoes and cassava which lend rich flavor and spice to the rice. Hungarian cuisine rounds out the menu, with cheesy scone-like Pogača breads. While Berlin is surely not the first place you’d think to go for African cuisine, things have improved a lot in the last five years, according to Matekole. And Baobab, close to the African quarter, is a welcome addition. Wedding reminds him of the city of Salford near Manchester: down-to-earth and residential. There are few frills at Baobab but it’s authentic, and like the baobab tree, it has put down healthy roots and is becoming an integral part of the neighborhood.
Text: Johannes Paetzold / Photos: Jonas Michel
For more culinary highlights in Wedding, check out Episode #13 of the Teller Stories podcast: