Revised 13 December 2013
Over the coming months I will continue putting up brief notes on cuisine and crops in Africa, covering the following and related topics. Some of these are summary overviews, not intended to reflect specific conditions in all areas; others are geographically specific.
Some of the topics covered include
- Generalizations about food and diets in tropical & sub-tropical Africa
- Eating during the Nineteenth Century
- — What colonial explorers had to say
- — Indigenous and introduced crops
- Cuisine and crops before Colonization
- Food and War in Pre-Colonial Africa
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1. A few generalizations about food and diets in Africa:
During and before colonial times, as now, the daily diet in most areas of Africa has been overwhelmingly ‘vegetarian’. This is not because people can’t get meat – or because any special benefit is seen to being vegetarian – but because meat has not been a central part of the diet as it is, or has become, in many other areas of the globe. However, dietary preferences are now changing and meat consumption is therefore slowly increasing – especially among the more wealthy.
The most popular meat includes small ruminants (goats and sheep) as well as poultry, but particularly in rural areas their consumption is generally reserved for special occasions. This is primarily because livestock have traditionally operated as ‘savings banks on the hoof’; also providing much-needed manure. They are therefore worth more alive than slaughtered – except for emergency cash needs and for use in celebrations.
Fish are commonly eaten in many areas – often dried so as to be transported for sale and/or stored. Also, a variety of bushmeat (aka wild animals), are caught in traps, speared, or chased down – and this is still the case today.
Colonial rule has resulted in the importation of a number of foods and cooking techniques that have been adopted or adapted to local diets and means. In central Africa, with Belgian Influence, frites (French fries), white bread, sandwiches, croissants, omelettes, tea, coffee (to drink rather than chewing on coffee berries, which was the case in pre-colonial times) and several other dishes and ways of cooking are widely popular.
- Animal Care and Health in the Tropics (dianabuja.wordpress.com)
- Using the Fruits of the Earth: Feasting in Burundi (dianabuja.wordpress.com)
- Batwa Pots in Burundi: Traditional Clay Pot Cuisine, Pt. 2 of 2 (dianabuja.wordpress.com)
- Batwa Pots in Burundi: Traditional Clay Pot Cuisine, Pt. 1 of 2 (dianabuja.wordpress.com)
- It’s That Time of the Year Again: Rice Harvesting and Processing (dianabuja.wordpress.com)