A Love Letter to Shito
How Founder Gloria Allorabi Is Nurturing a Culinary Empire Rooted in Ghanaian Heritage
A native of Ghana, Gloria is sharing her heritage through her growing condiment brand, Gloria’s Shito.
This Black History Month, Abby&Edna is honoring the past by looking to the future — spotlighting the burgeoning culinary pioneers who are making a name for themselves, while honoring who they are and where they come from.
This week, A&E spoke to Gloria Allorbi — co-founder of Gloria’s Shito — about her love for the sacred Ghanian condiment and how she started her own business interpreting the flavors of Ghanian cuisine.
WHAT DOES THE WORD SHITO MEAN?
Spoken mainly in the southwestern coastal region of the West African country Ghana, “shito” translates to “pepper” in the Ga language.
WHAT IS SHITO, AND HOW DID YOU COME TO LOVE IT?
Shito is Ghana’s beloved traditional condiment. After moving to Scotland and finally the United States as a teenager, I often found myself missing the dynamic flavors of Ghana’s most sought-after street condiment. As a child (and long before street vendors were the hipster fast-food of choice), I’d often roam the outskirts of Accra with my schoolmates, pooling together what little change we had in order to share and enjoy the smile-evoking flavors of Ghana. Be it a protein such as goat, chicken or fish, a multitude of fresh vegetables or “bready” carbs, shito made everything taste as it should — joyful.
HOW DID YOU CREATE YOUR OWN VERSION OF THE CONDIMENT?
Upon my return to Los Angeles and away from family, I missed my dear shito. Without further thought, I made that proverbial phone call so many daughters have made … I called my mother. I asked, “After leaving Accra when I was a kid, how did you come to make your shito? What’s your recipe?” Like so many West Africans, recipes are handed down in the oral tradition. It went something like this: “Ah ha, just add a little of this, a little more of that, a dash of whatchamacallit, a scoop of that one thing, a spoon of the good stuff, and a whole lot of love.” Via a little improvised “culinary creativity”, I had my shito recipe.
HOW DID YOU BEGIN GLORIA’S SHITO?
As I dove into making my own shito, my cousin and brothers caught wind of my newfound interest and offered to compensate me, product untasted. From there, I had my first customers and the confidence to proceed — Gloria’s Shito was created.
WHO INSPIRED YOU MOST IN THE KITCHEN?
My super (food) hero mother, Mabel. After moving west, my mom would often fill my emptiness with her homemade and improvised interpretation of the revered Ghanaian condiment.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT GLORIA’S SHITO?
Gloria’s Shito is a beautifully crafted and time intensive condiment, made by the careful selection and blending of hot peppers, ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes (and often fish) to capture a bloom of umami & spice; richly elevating a large variety of international cuisines.