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Apr 8, 2013 05:12 AM

African Cuisine?

This is my first post but I was wondering what peoples opinions are on African cuisine, excluding north and south africa, I think food from Ethiopia is becoming popular but I don't think a lot of people know about the food from west africa for example. I don't know if it has anything to do with famine or the saying "there are straving children in africa". What do you think about the popularity of African food?

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  1. Both in the SFBay area and Washington DC area there have been a good many African Restaurants. I know that I DC they have been very popular since the late 70's.

    1. You are not going to find African restaurants in a place without a sizable African population.

      In the DC area, where I live, there is a smattering of Ghanaian restaurants, and a handful of others representing Kenya, Senegal, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, and some others.

      The two biggest populations are Ethiopian and Eritrean, with many restaurants throughout the area.

      One of my favorite places in DC is Chez Aunty Libe, a Senegalese restaurant with many terrific dishes. Plus I get to practice my French.

      Now onto your question about famine:

      Drought in the 'Horn of Africa' (Somalia principally, but also Kenya and Ethiopia) has caused major upheaval and is principally responsible for those 'starving children in Africa' admonitions you hear from time to time. There is also famine in the Sahel, a transitional region principally of grasslands, that forms a belt just below the Sahara desert.

      In some parts of Africa, people have been corralled to live in places under conditions they would not traditionally have to endure. Maybe for reasons of political upheaval or cultural genocide.

      Land is taken away from previously nomadic people, and they are stuck somewhere where they can't thrive. The animals won't survive grazing in one area all year, and the soil might be okay for a single season, but not continuous farming. .In some cases, ecological disaster has also obliterated previously fertile land.

      Some areas in Africa do not have these problems, so it is not all-encompassing.

      However, if I were to take DC as an indication, then the key for restaurant availability is not by area of famine, but by local population, since Ethiopia is particularly hard hit by famine, and there are a lot of Ethiopian restaurants here.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        "You are not going to find African restaurants in a place without a sizable African population."

        That's quite untrue where I live-very few Africans here but all kinds of Ethiopian/Eritrean places to eat-and other West African joints and East African that I can think of off the top of my head.

        So who eats in them if not Africans?

        The answer is everyone-we love eating out here.

        1. re: Sam Salmon

          Thanks for the info.

          I am surprised there a number of West African places in Vancouver if there is only a negligible African population. Do you know from which countries? Which places do you recommend?

          I work on events in the DC area, and I've worked several times with the Kenyan Embassy (among many others). There's a good-sized population here, but even then only about three far-flung choices for the cuisine, which is not easily reproduced here. The Kenyans I've spoken to don't like our meat, and the places struggle to survive.

          Ethiopian, I am not surprised as there is a pretty big population in North America and the popularity of the food has spread.

          But it was not clear to me if the OP was discounting Ethiopian and asking mostly about West African cuisine.

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          1. Senagalese fish and broken rice, Jolloff rice, peanut stew, fufu and other West African cuisine are among my favorites.