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West African Culture Essay

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Brief History

From the 1500s to the 1700s, African blacks, mainly from the area of West Africa (today's Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Dahomey, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Gabon) were shipped as slaves to North America, Brazil, and the West Indies. For them, local and tribal differences, and even varying cultural backgrounds, soon melded into one common concern for the suffering they all endured. Music, songs, and dances as well as remembered traditional food, helped not only to uplift them but also quite unintentionally added immeasurably to the culture around them. In the approximately 300 years that blacks have made their homes in North America, the West Indies, and Brazil, their highly honed art of the cuisine so treasured and carefully transmitted to their daughters has become part of the great culinary classics of these lands. But seldom are the African blacks given that recognition.
Of African origin are such specialities as gumbo and pralines, West Indian callaloo and duckandoo (a dish of greens and a dessert based on sweet potatoes), the Brazilian condiments dende oil and spicy hot sauces. Jamaica's bammy bread and the pan bread so beloved in the southern United States are both said to have their origin in the flat round cassava breads typical of Africa. Seeds and the plants of sesame, okra, some melons, and certain varieties of greens as well as yams, together with many techniques of bread making, and the use and combination of spices, are also all credited to the ingenuity of the African cook.
It could be argued that every nation and every ethnic group has its own soul food. But the contemporary connotation of the term "soul food" refers to the gradual blending and developing o...


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...vor and hotness is universal. Many a husband judges his wife's love and respect by the hotness of her sauces.
Considerable ingenuity is also displayed in the preparation and variety of breads, fried cakes, and
fritters prepared from flours made from cassava, millet, manioc, wheat, and corn.
Soups are the staple food of the nomadic tribespeople, moving from place to place in search of cattle food. They use milk and prepare butter but choose to collect wild vegetables and hunt occasional wild animals rather than use their herds for food.
Traditionally, fruit beers made from various cereals, and a slightly fermented beverage made from porridge water (maheu) are the beverages usually taken between meals rather than with food. More recently, sugar and honey-sweetened tea and coffee and commercial soft drinks are replacing the traditional and more. nourishing beverages.


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