African cuisine is rich in its diversity and bountiful in it’s harvest. Traditional foods are prepared in enticing ways, using traditional ingredients sumptuously blended with modern ones. The exciting thing about African food is as suggested in the title, “different styles”, which debunks the myth that Africa, on a historical and cultural level, can be seen as a single entity. You can find influences of Portuguese, French, British as well as traditional differences in the North, South, East and West African regions, which makes for a multi ethnic culinary experience.
The pig, now a stable in East Africa, was introduced there by the Portuguese. The French brought ginger and chilies to Africa’s West coast. The Arabs contributed, saffron, cinnamon and cloves to Ethiopia. Due to the Dutch influence in South Africa, many of the receipts used by the Dutch survive today in South African foods, like Kaiings, which is a combination of wild cabbage fried in the fat from a sheep’s tail. Yummy!
While flavors, tastes and and traditions differ, there are some common staples traditionally used in African foods such as corn, millet, rice, barley, cassava, coconuts, yams, citrus and pineapples, but they are skillfully blended with the spices and products, both indigenous and imported.
So it is that you would rarely see an “pure African ” restaurant, but much like with Asian food, where there are different types of Asian food , there are different kinds of African food and restaurants. It is common to see, anywhere in the world and even in African countries, Ethiopian, West African, South African , African Caribbean, Ethiopian, North African and Nigerian restaurants and foods, to name a few. Each of them offering a different taste of the many cultures of Africa. Some of foods offered at these restaurants even claim to have blended flavors of India, Africa and Asia. Many of the menus are predominately vegetarian, along with fish, okra, peanut soup and fried plantains – a mainly West African cuisine.
West Africa, is made up of Gambia, Nigeria, Togo, Mali, C, Benin, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea. This food is dominated by starch, lots of fat and small portions of meat. North African, which includes Morocco have tangy, perfumed flavored delights like pickled lemons, barley couscous.
When the urge to eat at an African restaurant strikes you, don’t believe that if you have tasted one, you have tasted all. To indulge all the unique and exotic tastes of African food, be prepared for a culinary tour of Africa that may take months, even years to complete.