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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.

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

          1. We quite like Moroccan cuisine.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JayL

              Remember SAT analogies?

              For me
              Moroccan food is to African food
              Vietnamese food is to Asian food.

              I think it's a French thing.

              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                After the Roman Empire fell, its Eastern 'half' the Byzantines spread their Christianity from Turkey to other parts of the old empire, including North Africa, Andalusia, Greece,etc. This is the Levantine tradition and there are similarities in the cuisine.

            2. You say excluding North and South Africa. And here I was going into Libyan and Moroccan food....
              I would say, you simply can't sum up African food in a couple of sentences. Examples - the cuisine of Burkina Faso in West Africa is french with the addition of lots of Plantains.
              Going over the border into English speaking Ghana, I would bet the cuisine is probably quite different.
              Namibia eats well with many different meat/mainly Antelope dishes, fresh vegetables.
              Not sure how this would translate here.

              1 Reply
              1. re: RUK

                So true and as an Ethiopian-Russian woman I wish folks would stop trying to blend the cultures into one neat package. Get out there and enjoy the cuisine (or not) but try to learn about the flavors and the preparations unique to each sect. Is this how Indians feel?

              2. Ignoring the generic subject line, I'm mostly familiar with cuisines from Ethiopia and the Maghreb.

                My rare (perhaps token; I can't recall right now) experience eating food from that continent but outside of those two areas was in one of the blocks of Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong. I saw an ad for peanut butter rice, and figured that it was a swell idea. I'm leaning towards Ghana or Senegal as the origin of the proprietor, regardless it was nice (particularly with something to complement the drone of the flavor of peanuts) and I'd go back.