My loyal Citizenry! Heed the clarion sound of My urgent klaxon, for it is Gabriel’s own veritable trumpet announcing – not the Apocalypse – but rather the glorious arrival of a new message from your beloved Suzerain!
Engrossed by fevered thought in My luxurious ensuite in the moments before dawn, My incessant tossing instead evolved into a lightning-like lunge to the sitting position! For the answer I had been seeking had dawned upon Me with the first light of the sun darting into My sight: AFRICA!
I have been trying with all the Herculean strength of My will to demonstrate the glory of different, rarely-sampled cuisines here in the Western world. Sadly, African recipes rarely – if ever – grace the average American table.
A true waste of potential, for African cuisine can include some of the most complex, redolent flavors in the entirety of the gastronomic canon – and yet…it is rarely seen or experienced here in the United States. Bad Asian, though? Tons of it…
As eloquently noted in the introduction of a book on African cuisine detailed at ohioswallow.com:
In 1887, on a mountaintop overlooking Addis Ababa, her kingdom’s new capital, Queen Taytu Bitul laid out a magnificent feast for her guests. She had prepared pots of mutton stew, roasted beef, spiced soups, peppered pea sauce, minced meat sautéed in butter flavored by exotic spices, all accompanied by rivers of honey wine.
The scents of the simmering stews, the buzz of the assembled guests, and the tableau of elegant presentations were part of an elaborate theater of political ritual, but the food itself had not only taste, aroma, and texture, but also historical meaning.
The act of the feast, I would argue, had as much to do with the meaning of the cooking as with taste of the food itself. What can we learn about history’s introduction from understanding the cookery?
This book examines the deeper historical evidence and the meaning of food and cooking in African history. Food as a topic in African history adds taste and texture to events and personalities. There are two possible approaches to discussing it.
The first is to consider the daily struggle for sustenance, whether in the African origins of humankind or, in modern times, in the famines that have devastated regions of Africa such as Ethiopia, Niger, and Sudan.
This approach has value in addressing Africa’s economic woes and their human consequences, but it emphasizes struggle and heartbreak at the expense of recognizing Africa’s fundamental energy and creativity in the history of its cooking and its solutions to life’s problems.
The second approach, the one I adopt, is to consider cooking and cuisine as a creative composition at the heart of all cultural expressions of ourselves as humans.
Historically, and in Africa until recently, food has grown, literally, under our feet or as animals that we herd or hunt, and until recent times families prepared meals from the bounty they could create from the lands and waters where they lived.
They thus ate in the rhythm of the seasons, the bearing of wild fruits, the movements of fish, the timing of harvests, and the migrations of animals in the wild.
So I want to explore cuisine in Africa as something conceived, cooked, and consumed, first around home fires, cooking pots, griddles, and spits, and later in market stalls and restaurants and at political events where food expressed power.
Eating together, commensality, was thus not just nutrition but also a measure of human values, linking communities of kin, neighbors, and friends around tastes and sequences of taste expressing who they were on a daily basis: in a word, cuisine.
My glorious Citizens – it is My will and pleasure that the next several recipes here on TFD shall correct this egregious imbalance and restore equilibrium and homeostasis to a food world map that is grossly imbalanced against the African continent!
Just to put all this in perspective – LOOK HOW BIG AFRICA REALLY IS IN THE ILLUSTRATION ABOVE! It’s time to redress the colonialist attitude and the ignorance around African cuisine and I am just the Man to do it for all of TFD Nation!
Please enjoy these superb recipes from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Morocco, Mozambique and Togo over the next week or so – and know the TRUE glory of the continent’s diversity and flavors! While doing so, bask in the warm afterglow of My culinary genius and remember to avert your eyes from the entirety of My blinding radiance and nimbus!
Also, be VERY GRATEFUL you are currently virtual and thus able to avoid the draconic garlic breath TFD is currently rocking after enjoying a favorite snack of Lebanese toum! 😉
Battle on – the Generalissimo
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