Eating in Africa’s different regions

What does one think of when they think of African cuisine? With such a vast continent, the diversity of African food must differ greatly. Eating and drinking habits differ to a great extent from one region to the next.


Central Africa, which includes the vast rainforest basin of the Congo River, has perhaps remained the most unaffected by outside influences. Except for the widespread adaptation of cassava, peanut and chili pepper plants which arrived with the slave trade in the 16th Century. Central African cooking can perhaps be considered the closest to traditional food of all the regions.


The cuisine of East Africa varies greatly from area to area. In the inland savannah, meat is mostly absent from the people who regard cattle, sheep and goats as currency and emblems of wealth.

Many Arabic influences are still found in the spicy Swahili dishes, from the Arabs who settled on the coast 1000 years ago. Portuguese travelers had brought with them cooking techniques of marinating and roasting and the Indians had brought their spices.


In the Horn of Africa, the main traditional food of Eritrean cuisine are stews served with flat bread.


North Africa lies along the Mediterranean Sea and its traditional African cuisine consists of the influences of many nations including Morocco, Egypt and Mauritania, to name a few. Traders, invaders, migrants, immigrants and travelers have all influenced North African cuisine.


In Southern Africa, a traditional African restaurant would serve food that is a blend of many cultures which includes the indigenous African tribal societies as well as Europeans and Asians.


A typical West African meal is heavy with starchy items, meat, spices and plenty of flavors. There are many staples including fufu, which is made from starchy root vegetables, such as yams. Grain is a common staple, but the type of grain varies from region to region.