About African Cooking

When we moved to Nigeria we knew food would be different. What we did not expect was how much healthier we have both been in general, and several pounds lighter without really trying!

A meal in West Africa generally looks like this: A ball of some type of starch is served, called tuo in Nigeria but foofoo in the Francophone countries that surround it. The starch may consist of cassava, rice, African yams (which are white and starchy, not sweet like American yams), rice, maize, or whatever grows well locally. The tuo is accompanied by a "soup" or a "stew" (we would call it a "sauce"), made mostly from vegetables. There might be some meat in it: a serving is about the size of a golf ball, or one joint of chicken; no major slabs of meat.

The advantages to the African diet are:
  • Less meat
  • More veggies
  • Everything fresh and natural
  • Snacks and sugar are occasional treats
Admittedly, the diet also has some drawbacks: many cooks are fond of lots of salt and palm oil.

Meat is generally boiled, then fried. I wondered at this until I tried making American fried chicken with a local bird and my family joked about where I managed to find a rubber chicken in Nigeria! Of course, parts are consumed that we never consider; the head and feet, the skin of cows (which isn't bad), and the very bones of chicken. You know how you supposedly can't give dogs chicken bones? Not only do we give them to the dogs, I myself have eaten them and I haven't died yet.

Many families only eat meat around Christmas time, when beef is boiled and fried in chunks to the point of being almost like jerky-- this preserves it for two or three weeks without refrigeration. The house is stocked with meat, rice, and a cookie-like creation called chinchin, as it is a time of visiting back and forth between houses.

In the near future, I will be posting more African recipes. They are hard to come by as of course cooks don't have a recipe file or book; I have to watch carefully. When transmitting information, Africans are not a full-disclosure culture. You can ask for a recipe but the answer will only consist of a representation of the whole.
It comes in installments.

As will this page. I will be adding more information about African cooking as I learn myself.

Sai an jima! (See you later!)