A History of African Cuisine

If you think North America is diverse, you haven’t been to the beautiful continent of Africa. You may not have realized, but there is actually a lot of African inspired dishes being served all over America and the world at large.

Central Africa

Central Africa has, for the most part, stuck to their culinary roots. While other parts of Africa have inherited traits and discovered food trends, Central Africa has remained very much the same as it always has due to location. Traditionally, people who raised cattle did not consume the meat, but just the milk, and in some cases, the blood. Sheep, cows and other types of cattle like goats were treated very much like currency. The majority of food available in this area is cassava, which is the equivalent of what Americans know as tapioca, plantains and a type of banana. The traditional types of meat served in this area are beef and chicken, but it wouldn’t be uncommon to find warthog, crocodile, monkey or even antelope being served up for chow!

Northern Africa

Perhaps the most well-known Northern African dish would be couscous, which has become increasingly more popular in North America and even France.

All of the countries share similar tastes, food and recipes. But in some cases, a dish that has one name in one country could be the exact same but go under a different name in another country. Like tamales, there are about 10 different names for what is essentially the same dish. Or maybe they have the same name, but are two very different dishes. For instance, in Morocco, a “tagine” dish is a slow cooked stew. But if you visit Tunisia it is more like a quiche or frittata.

Southern Africa

Did you know that in south africa the food is sometimes referred to as “rainbow cuisine”? The reason for this is because it has such a range of influence from different tribes. Beer was a large part of the South African diet. In fact, the woman of a house was often  judged for how well she could make beer! Today, the people of South Africa still very much enjoy a “braai” which is the equivalent of a BBQ in America.

Eastern Africa

Through the years, immigrants have brought their food to the coast of Eastern Africa. The Arab’s brought with them steamed rice and spices such as cloves, saffron and even cinnamon!

The British as well as the Indians brought with them vegetable curries and lentils. The Portuguese introduced more exotic things, such as chilies, pineapple and even domestic pigs to slaughter for pork.

Western Africa

The meat of choice in Africa is goat, but beef kabobs and chicken are also served. Typically at roadside stands. We can see the appearance of Maize in West African cuisine through the years. West Africa, and most especially in the drier areas, embraces cultural rituals like highly esteeming water. In South Africa, A glass of water is the first thing that is offered upon inviting a guest inside your home.

African cuisine is quickly beginning to gain traffic as well as popularity around the world.

With a wide variety of spices, sauces, veggies and grains, any dish can use the wonderful elements of African cuisine.

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