West African cuisine

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West African cuisine

Food migration

Some culinary items that are today closely associated with West African cuisine came from afar:

A millennium ago

West Africans exchanged goods with Arab traders who traveled vast distances over the desert in camel caravans. This trade introduced rice and Mideast flavoring agents like cinnamon to the local diets.

A few centuries ago

Slave-ship traffic returning from the New World brought chili, tomato, and peanut. Ditto for corn, cassava, and plantains.

The cooking-ingredient migration was not a one-way street.

A few centuries ago

Slave ships carried African ingredients to the New World, including black-eyed peas and okra. (The famous Cajun dish gumbo, which uses okra, derives its name from the African word "gomba", meaning okra.)

Colonial factor

The European settlers defined colonial borders without regard to tribal cultures. This bisected tribes and created colonies with varying culinary styles. As a result, it's difficult to sharply define, for example, Senegalese cuisine.

European culinary influence

Although the Portuguese, French, British and other European colonists highly influenced New World cuisines, they had relatively little impact on West African cuisine. The proud spirit of that cuisine remains essentially the same as it was in the past.

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West African cuisine - Page one
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