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The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent Paperback – August 17, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439193304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439193303
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Mr. Mercator, maker of wall maps, would have us believe that the continent of Africa is this piddly little thing, mostly below the equator, weighed down by the size and majesty of Europe. Jessica B. Harris, author of The Africa Cookbook, shows us how big this continent truly is (three times the landmass of Europe; 1,000 different languages); how incredibly ancient its history is; how grand and majestic is the sweep of cooking styles and food flavors that shift from north to south, east to west; and how up-to-the-minute and relevant those food and flavor experiences can be. As with any of Harris's previous books, the reader can savor equal portions of eye-opening scholarship, delectable storytelling, and delicious recipes.

The book is divided into chapters that discuss the edible history of Africa, the range of food regions in Africa, a glossary of African ingredients and utensils, and an argument that the much vaunted Mediterranean diet needs to look south for its origins. Recipe chapters fall along traditional lines: appetizers, salads and soups, condiments, vegetables, main dishes, breads and starches, desserts, and beverages--and include dishes from all over the continent. You will find the likes of Sardine Fritters (Algeria), Avocado and Papaya Salad (Kenya), Pili Pili Sauce (western Africa), Mashed Eggplant à la Zeinab (Sudan), and Grilled Shrimp Pili Pili (Mozambique).

Africa, Harris argues, isn't the Dark Continent, but the "continent about which we are in the dark." Use The Africa Cookbook to taste your way into the light. --Schuyler Ingle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

From the outset, African culinary historian, food writer and cookbook author Harris (The Welcome Table; Sky Juice and Flying Fish) dares readers to keep "an open mind and a willing spoon" as she traverses Africa, exploring the continent's diverse cuisines and rich history. An erudite discussion of regional food differences among North, South, East and West Africa is followed by a glossary of African ingredients and utensils and a list of mail order sources for ingredients. While Harris challenges readers to move beyond preconceived notions of African food as "hot," "spicy" and limited to "soupy stews," her lofty intentions fall somewhat short as her recipe collection covers mostly these very types of preparations. Virtually all of the 200-plus recipes are "one-pot" dishes, which showcase just one ingredient that is boiled or fried then seasoned, as with Coconut Crisps, Corn on the Cob and Boiled Yams. Main dishes include savory chicken and lamb preparations (Classic Chicken Yassa, from Senegal; Lamb Tajine with Prunes, from Morocco) and some exotic meat stews (Cape Verdean Stew with pig's feet and ham hocks, for example), all well seasoned and easily rendered. Harris's affinity and passion for Africa's food culture and history is infectious; yet her recipe collection, while providing a valuable cultural reference, glorifies the familiar and contains very few culinary surprises.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Ein Kunde on April 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It is hard to complain about a book that is so well written and attractively put together. Ms. Harris has done a very good job, and this is a welcome addition to the small (but growing) collection of African cookbooks. Many African dishes (e.g., Poulet Yassa or Groundnut Stew) deserve to be as well known as classic dishes from Europe, Asia, or the Americas, and Ms. Harris is doing something to make make these dishes better known. She has also collected a great many lesser known recipes, so there's something here for everyone. To the extent that she provides some information about African food, it tends to be anecdotal, though nothing is incorrect as far as I can tell. It may be a bit too much to expect one book to describe the gastronomy of an entire continent. (Could we imagine a book called "The Europe Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent"?) and therein is the problem.
This book's title says "continent" and it contains recipes from Western Africa, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and some from Northern Africa. My real complaint is the complete absence of recipes from Central Africa -- the Congo River basin area. This willful ignorance (in the sense of "to ignore") of Central Africa seems to be common among "fair-weather Africanists"; it also occurs in "Wonders of the African World" by Henry Louis Gates. It is distressing to see that even as we enter the 21st millenium there is still a "dark place", an unknown place on the map of Africa, much as Conrad described in "Heart of Darkness" over a century ago. True, there has been a civil war going on in Congo, and before that Zaire was not an easy place to travel.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mariangela Buch on November 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very interesting cookbook for the serious African/African American cook or for the researcher of the native foods of Africa. There is a lot of compelling information in the book. But, I would rate this book from a cook's point of view as challenging. The presentation is beautiful, but you must have the resources and expertise to follow these instructions of many of the recipes.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By center4c@tiac.net on March 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is wonderful for anyone interested or experienced in Africa or cooking, because it gives recipies from all over the continent from soup to nuts, ie. main courses, salads, desserts, the range of food items. Easy to follow, delightful to read, many old-time photos involving markets. and food in Africa.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rhonda Young on December 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
i have enjoyed making recipes from and just reading this book. i almost always make the "curried corn" for potlucks and i have seen people eat it warm, room temp and even cold, with tortilla chips or spread on bread. i have used it as a relish for fish tacos, as well. the reviewer who tossed hers out as "grabage" (maybe she should have bought a dictionary, instead) may not have enjoyed the idea of an informational-type cookbook, but i appreciate the short history on the recipes and ingredients and it will continue to be used in my kitchen.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book contains a survey of food across Africa. The author, a food historian, draws on her many experiences traveling through the continent in this collection of recipes. The recipes are authentic and tasty, and many of them are quite easy to prepare. However, I found a few of them a little unrealistic (such as frying slices of four small eggplants in a single tablespoon of olive oil without so much as soaking them in saltwater first), leaving me wondering to what extent Harris had actually tested the recipes. Nonetheless, overall the book contains many exciting recipes and would make a welcome addition to the library of any adventurous cook.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Jessica Harris is a national treasure. This is so much more than a cookbook, though it is certainly an excellent representative of that genre. In Harris's works, you get a palpable sense of the foods of Africa, but also the spirits and culture with which each recipe and dish is interwoven. I'm an unabashed fan. If only I could cook.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ega on December 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read through this book for fun. As an African, many of the recipes have, well, quite obviously not been made by the author but instead garnered from others, errors and all. Which is why she suggests that Nigerians make eba with palm oil... ah. no, no they don't... I doubt they actually incorporate the oil into cassava... not sure how that would work... these and other little quirks made the book funny in a laughable kind of way, but not practical... or accurate really. I do appreciate the idea, and hope a real African who has lived on the continent can make a good cookbook showing different recipes from all over the continent (as herculean a task as that would be) Also, lots of typos... not sure how that's possible in a cookbook...but it happened. Long story short, this is a good book to impress your friends with if you're not African and want to show how diverse your interests are. If you are African, this is a good book to have a laugh at with other Africans.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rhonda Young on December 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
i have enjoyed making recipes from and just reading this book. i almost always make the "curried corn" for potlucks and i have seen people eat it warm, room temp and even cold, with tortilla chips or spread on bread. i have used it as a relish for fish tacos, as well. the reviewer who tossed hers out as "grabage" (maybe she should have bought a dictionary, instead) may not have enjoyed the idea of an informational-type cookbook, but i appreciate the short history on the recipes and ingredients and it will continue to be used in my kitchen.
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