Sub-Saharan Africa

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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Sub-Saharan Africa is here taken to comprise W. Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad.

Much of this area, mostly former French colonies, is sparsely populated. Most of the people live in the less arid southern areas around the few rivers and lakes, notably the Niger and Lake Chad. The terrain is fairly flat with the exception of N. Chad. The Sahel, the strip between desert and savannah, which makes up most of the western countries, is mostly scrub.

The cooking is most influenced by that of N. Africa. Mauritania, for example, has a dish, michoui, stuffed leg of lamb with dates and raisins, which is very similar to Moroccan dishes. The staple foods are rice and millet with fonio or hungry rice, Digitaria exilis or D. iburua, and wild grains being commonly eaten in some areas, often with a meatball and peanut (see groundnut) sauce. yams and plantains are also eaten, and beans and lentils are important. maize porridge is widely eaten in the E. Sahel. Millet grains may be made into couscous or boiled with cassava to a mush called le tô. For festive occasions this is served with two sauces, one made of minced meat, dried fish, and dried okra powder and the other of diced meat and tomatoes. These are usually combined before serving.