Sonique Says builds communities through food
From early on, Sonique Solis came to the realisation that food and music were two great unifiers in life. Born in Manchester, Jamaica, she spent her days basking in the sweet sounds the island had to offer, while developing a profound passion for food.
Recalling her childhood, Solis told Food, “I travelled a lot as a child locally in Jamaica. I was proud to say I visited every parish by the time I was 14, and I don’t mean driving through. I mean stopping in that particular parish or in the capital of that parish and partaking in what would be a local thing.”
Citing examples, such as the fish in Little Ochi, St Elizabeth, or Border, Westmoreland, and Jerk with roasted yam in Manchester, Solis explained that she was never shy about exploring Jamaica’s cuisine.
“I think from a younger age, I looked forward to not only the destination, but what I could have that people who are local to that town would enjoy. I was in high school and I would encourage my friends. ‘Let’s jump in a taxi and go to Black River’,” she said, recalling the earlier enthusiasm through which she discovered life.
“I’ve always been influencing people to try new things and not just what we’re used to from home,” Solis told Food.
Transitioning into adulthood, Solis soon felt convicted to share this insight not just with her intimate circle, but to a wider audience. This led to the creation of her Instagram page, Sonique Says.
“I created my Sonique Says page, I believe, 11 years ago. I decided to do that because people would ask me questions all the time. I’m known within my inner circle and my work community as the person to go to for food. Not only on just a date night or a birthday, but if the office party is happening, where should you get food from.”
She continued, “Pretty much I didn’t want strangers in my DMs that had nothing to do with my personal life, so I created Sonique Says since then because I wanted that separation.”
Though the page has existed for over a decade, Solis says she has not been particularly interested in building a large following. Her primary goal is to maintain the close-knit relationships she has built within her community.
“I know that I am not able to maintain talking to 10,000 people,” she explained, “so I want to make sure that if someone reaches out to me, I can be proactive in responding to them.”
Having explored about 10 cuisines both locally and internationally, she says her mission remains the same.
“The goal has not changed. I think food, along with music, is a way for us as human beings to connect. There are a lot of things, from Indian cuisine to Caribbean cuisine to Southern US cuisine, that have similar bases. I think if we approach getting to know each other from music and food, I think we will come to understand that we have a lot more in common than we think.”
She went on, “My hope for my page is to have close friends, family and the community that I have developed understand and love food the way I do. Not from a pretentious way or an obnoxious way or a forceful way, but to help someone to find out what is your favourite flavour, what does your pallet like. Let’s find other cuisines that complement that.”