Friday, October 31, 2014

Africa in Culinary Context Part 4

Food Prof Frederick Douglass Opie shares his favorite mp3 downloads on African foodways and related recipes

The BBC Food Programme, Africa's Forest Foods: [Listen Now 25 mins]

BBC Food Programme Directory:

Robert Launay, West African Foodways: [Listen Now 59 min 9 sec]

Africa in Culinary Context Series & Recipes:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Africa in Culinary Context Part 3

Grilled Chinese eggplant, this and other recipes below
Eggplant is indigenous to India and from there it spread throughout South East Asia. The first record of its cultivation as food goes back to fifth century China. There is a debate over who introduced it to Africa—the Portuguese, Indonesian traders or Arab traders. Eggplant arrived in Africa before the Middle Ages.  Eggplant arrived and grew in colonial Southern British colonies as early as 1737 with some insisting that the Atlantic slave facilitated its introduction to the Americas from West Africa. In North America, Africans introduced eggplant to the Americas in the 1700s via the Atlantic Slave trade. 

Pakistani Aaloo Baingan (Eggplant and potato in a curry sauce) recipe

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Africa in Culinary Context Part 2

Kibbeh balls made with pine nuts, recipe below caption
Some have traced the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the consumption of bush meat (wild game) in this instance bats which in some regions people consider them a delicacy - they are must lager than the typical bat in other parts of the world. In this series we provide historical context to the people and regions inundated with the Ebola scourge many of which are Mande. Mande speakers (also identified in historical documents as Mandingo and Mandinka) lived in the geographic area of present-day Liberia. The Mande made a dish called kibbeh which is a ball or torpedo-shaped fried croquette stuffed with minced lamb. “So delicious did I find it,” writes traveler Theodore Canot in the 1800s, “that, even at this distance of time, my mouth waters when I remember the forced meat balls of mutton, minced with roasted ground nuts, that I devoured that night in the Mandingo town of Kya.” 

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Africa in Culinary Context Series & Recipes:

West African Foodways and Recipes:

Traditional Kibbeh Ball Recipe:

Vegan Kibbeh Ball Recipe:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Africa in Culinary Context Part 1

Fruit vendor selling plantains and nineteenth Brazil
The Ebola outbreak as Africa in the news on daily basis. It seem appropriate to try and provide as much historical context as possible about the people and cultures throughout West Africa where the epidemic is most problematic. This scene of a woman selling plantains could be in nineteenth century West or Central Africa, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Haiti, CuraƧao, Guyana, or Mexico. Plantains are indigenous to India; Asian traders introduced them to Africa during the Christian era, and Africans introduced them to the Americas during the Atlantic slave trade. African gradually made green and ripe yellow plantains a staple making breads, fritters, drinks, sliced deep fried treats, and fufu out of them. In tropical regions of the Americas, plantains became one of the first foods planted in subsistence gardens, distributed as rations, and sold as both produce and street foods.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Food Markets In The Aztec Empire

A Diego Rivera mural of a market in ancient Mexico City during the Aztec Empire
As in pre-colonial Africa, common women ran local food markets in the Aztec Empire and thereafter. Women entrepreneurs sold lizards, fish, deer, mole, various species of corn, cactus, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, fruits, nuts, coconuts, grains, mushrooms, and insects which served as a popular source of protein. 

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Hispanic History Month Series with Recipes:

Insects and Mexican Foodways: [Watch Now 9 mins 24 sec]

Market Series with Recipes:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Colonial Mexico City Through the Lens of Food

Nopalitos with tomatoes and onions, this and other recipes below
In colonial Mexico City indigenous women gradually shaped the cookery and preferences of Iberian owned homes and eateries. This happened despite the attempt of Iberian born wives to teach their Indian cooks how to prepare meals according to Spanish culinary styles. Spanish women gradually learned cost saving methods from their domestic servants learning that their meals “turned out much cheaper [and easier] to feed everyone” in a large household. The culinary and economic savvy of Indigenous women, some free and some enslaved, resulted in the transformation that occurred in the diet of new arrivals from Europe. 

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pop Ups Restaurants in 1960s Brooklyn

Panamanian Patties, this and other recipes below 

Pop up restaurants are nothing new. In the 1960s popup restaurants or “paid parties” in Brooklyn to earn rent money had been a “big deal” recalls George Priestly, a sociologist who conducted about 60 interviews with Panamanian immigrants to the United States. Panamanian emigrants loved paid parties because they “enlarged [their] contact with other folk” who showed them the ropes. Priestly recalls going with Charlie Boogaloo who knew all of the best spots and all of the people that ran them. “He knew seven different places and we would just go from house to house paying a couple of dollars, eating, and then go back to our party or stay there.” Different house parties had different kinds of food. African American homes usually served up southern food. At an Afro-Panamanian home, there would be West Indian meat patties and rice and peas, chicken, fried plantains, potato salad, and Central American tamales.

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Hispanic History Month Series with Recipes:

Jamaican Pattie Recipe: [Watch Now 3 min 28 sec]

Veggie Patties Recipe:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Give Them the Pie Treatment

Photo courtesy of

As a graduate student I did archival research at the AGCA (national archives in Guatemala) in Guatemala City in 1997. After a long day working in the archives, I cooked and relaxed in my Guatemalan Kitchen. One particular archivist could be a real drag to deal with. One night while in the kitchen I heard a sermon on cassette about treating difficult people with kindness. The message inspired me to make a pineapple pie for the archivist. Most them received insufficient compensation and appreciation for their work . So I brought a pie to them which caught the archivist by surprise. They felt valued and showed their gratitude. In addition, my remaining months working in the archives went smooth and I always had enough documents to keep me busy.

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Hispanic History Month Series with Recipes:

My Book on Guatemala:

Pineapple Pie Recipe:

Good Food’s Pie-Cast Chef Rick Bayless’ Peach Pie:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Molasses and the Spanish American War

Vitamin rich chocolate molasses smoothie, this and other recipes below
During the Spanish American War, the U.S. military seized Puerto Rico in 1898 leading to less expensive Puerto Rican molasses flooding U.S. markets thereafter. Sugar is full of empty calories while molasses is rich in minerals and vitamins. For instance, two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses provides 13.3% of the daily recommended value for iron, 14.0% of the daily recommended value for copper, 18.0% of the daily recommended value for manganese, and 9.7% of the daily recommended value for potassium. Molasses is also high in calcium, a necessity for strong bones and teeth, blood clotting, and the transmission of nerve impulses to and from the brain. Calcium also removes toxins from the colon, thus reducing the risk of colon cancer. Molasses is an excellent source of copper which helps in the healthy development of bone and connective tissue. Manganese-rich molasses is essential to the healthy functioning of the nervous system and contains potassium that assists in proper muscle contraction and nerve transmission. Finally, molasses is rich in vitamins B-1, B-2, B-6, and vitamin E. Here is a related recipe.

Chocolate Molasses Smoothie Recipe

2 cups vanilla soy milk
2 tsp tablespoon coco or carob powder
1 scoop protein powder
1 diced frozen banana
3 tablespoon blackstrap molasses or sweeten to taste
2 tablespoon ground flax seeds 


Blend all the ingredients on high speed until smooth. Serves 2

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Hispanic History Month Series with Recipes:

Molasses and Atlantic Foodways Series:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Inca Food PreservationTechnology

Peruvian Olluquito con Charqui, this and other recipes below
In the Indigenous societies of the Andes, women planted and harvested the fields and prepared the food. Men hunted animals and raised like stock including alpaca and llama. The women would slaughter the animals and prepare it for eating. Pre-Columbian Inca women developed dishes using a cured, slated, and dehydrated meat they called charqui. The English word Jerky comes from the Andean word charqui. The women would salt cure the meat and dry it in the hot sun and freezing cold for about a month and thereby increasing its longevity. From the Jerked meat Andean women made a soup called Olluquito con charqui made with ollucos (a yellow Andean tuber), traditionally women used slices of jerked alpaca and llama, but today its more often made with jerked beef, and served with rice. Jerking meat (salting and drying it in the sun) to conserve it has a long history and that extends around the globe. 

Olluquito con Charqui Recipe


4 tsp oil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ kg “charqui” or jerked meat/vegan substitute
1 kg ollucos chopped in fine strips
½ cup onion
Chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
ground chilly

Shred and fry pre-soaked/hydrated Charqui. After browned, remove, and in the same oil fry onions, garlic, chilly and cayenne pepper. Add ollucos (soaked for 1 hour with salt). Cover the pot and cook at low heat. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with white rice. Makes eight servings

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Peruvian Foodways and Recipes:

Hispanic History Month Series with Recipes:

BBC Radio Food Program on Preserving Meat: