Although there are many ethnic groups in Africa, it is possible to make some generalizations about foods and food customs. In some areas, different names may be used but it is generally conceded that the principal African staple is a starchy mixture called fufu in western regions and ugali in east-ern areas. It is eaten with spicy sauces and condiments. The starchy mixture may be prepared from any cereal or starchy vegetable or root by pounding into a paste and then cooking with water like a cereal. It is eaten with three fingers of the right hand by forming the food into a ball then dipping into flavorful and spicy sauces. Rice, yams, cassava, plantain, corn, millet, or cocoyams may be used. More sophisticated versions may be formed into small cakes or fritters and fried, or formed into small balls and poached, then served much the same way as dumplings are in other countries.
The condiment sauces are skillfully prepared from locally available spices and herbs and often include onions, tomatoes, meats and bones, fish and seafood, and various root and green vegetables, even fruits, depending on availability. The use of fiery peppers and chilies of many types and distinct flavor 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 tribes people, 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.