Now African food is not one you will find in your average high street restaurant. Nor is it one that you might find in the best selling cookbooks lining the shelves of your local bookshop. Has there yet been a television series featuring African cuisine? Well I think it’s about time! And what’s more you have probably eaten some wonderful African food and just not known it!
For a start there is North African food such as couscous, tagines, kebabs and wonderful aromatic stews laced with herbs and spices. This Arabic style of cooking is full of spices and herbs with rich flavours combining sweet and savoury and is absolutely delicious. It’s also pretty well known to you and me!
Another wonderful place to sample African cuisine at its best is in the numerous game lodges and safari camps scattered across Africa. You will often be served up some fantastic game and fish whilst dining by candlelight or firelight surrounded by the most amazing scenery and wildlife. The atmosphere of dining under the huge, clear, starlit African sky, listening to the sounds of the local wildlife is pretty hard to beat.
In South Africa some of the food is truly world-class with many top chefs running fabulous restaurants in Cape Town and Durban, Joburg and Pretoria. The Cape has fantastic sea food and the Winelands have superb cuisine to go along with the first class wines. This is very upmarket fine dining and a true culinary experience.
Also very traditional but much more informal is the South African braai or barbecue – a great opportunity to gather with friends and family and grill some game or fish – both of which are plentiful and cheap in South Africa. In Southern Africa you can eat many interesting types of meat and fish that you will never have come across before, including springbok, kudu, crocodile and ostrich.
West Africa has a totally different feel to its regional cuisine with an almost Caribbean flavour which you may already be familiar with. This is because West African culture and cuisine was imported to the Caribbean during the slave trade places like Nigeria, Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire. Food like okra, fried plantain, rice, peas and goat stew. Stews featuring tomatoes and chilli peppers are also popular. Other more basic dishes are a starchy dish called fufu made from cassava and plantain, jollof rice and maafe, a groundnut stew.
African cuisine, like the continent itself, offers a huge amount of variety. From the humble fufu to the fanciest of seafood platters and all the delicious food in between. Why don’t you try whipping up an African meal this weekend and transport yourself away from the November weather to Africa’s warm and wonderful embrace.