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Food Innovations Blog

African Cuisine

March 1, 2012

By: Chef Eric White, Culinary Development Chef

The diverse regions of Africa lend itself to an eclectic group of cuisines.  In the North the Mediterranean diet has largely influenced the people in the region.  Heading to the south the cuisine is considered to be a melting pot being influenced by the various cuisines of Africa, as well as Europe and Asia.  African cuisine is on the rise in the U.S, most notably is the fare of West Africa.

West African cuisine relies heavily on starchy foods such as yams and cassava, as well as cereal grains.  These starchy foods and others are used to make staples like fufu, which is made by boiling starchy vegetables and grinding with a mortar and pestle until achieving the desired consistency.  Foods like fufu are typically served beside stews and soups.  Meat plays a more important role in West Africa today.  What was once a diet of greens and starchy fruits and vegetables is evolving, including more fat and meats.  Goat is the most common red meat found in the region.  Suya is a common street food that is a kebab flavored with peanuts, ginger, onion and a variety of chiles.

West Africa was trading with Arab nations before cinnamon, mint, and clove were widely known.  These ingredients became a large part of the local flavor.  Hundreds of years after, European influence was introduced to West Africa.  The introduction of European influence brought chiles and tomatoes, which became staples of West African Cuisine.  These introductions have remained through the years and is why West Africa is considered to be a melting pot in the culinary world.

The Suya is on and a glass of palm wine is calling my name.

Bon Appétit!


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