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Ethnic Cuisine: Africa

by Terrie Wright Chrones

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African cuisine combines traditional fruits and vegetables, exotic game and fish from the oceans that surrounds her, and a marinade of cultures, colonies, trade routes, and history. Africa is a whole continent, from arid desert, to sub tropical wetlands, plains, and the oft- featured movie "jungle." Films have given Westerners an exotic view of Africa, from the big game hunter movies of the 1950's to recent movies showing colonization such as "Out of Africa." Woven within these movies are scenes of colonial food traditions, from the British to the Dutch, glimpses of native cuisine. Western views of Africa then, even if we have not traveled there, comprise a combination of the exotic, environmental preservation, hunting, and local cultivation.

African cuisine, formerly not well known in the West, is growing in popularity as immigrants bring the dishes of their country to small family restaurants in the West. To a traveler, it would be impossible to categorize "African food" just as it would be impossible to state the cuisine of any continent by one name. If you are intrepid, and take a safari tour from Kenya, your culinary experience will be much different from eating at the French and British influenced restaurants of Johannesburg, tasting Doro Wat of Ethiopia, Portuguese inspired spices of Angola and Mozambique, or the coconut and fish stews of Nairobi. Yet, all are part of African cuisine.

Northern Muslim Africa, along the Mediterranean from Morocco to Egypt is part of the Mediterranean culinary rim. Saharan Africa is for the most part subsistence. This article will cover sub Saharan Africa. Certain regions are distinctive for the development of indigenous cuisine, or incorporation of outside influences. These were distinctive by trade, colonization, or adaptation of imported foods, such as the New World peppers, peanuts, and corn. They are: Ethiopia, Nigeria, East and West Africa, the former Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique, and South Africa. You, the adventurous traveler, are encouraged to seek out local restaurants, outside of the large tourist hotels, to savor African cuisine.

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