Cookbook Profile

The Africa Cookbook:
Tastes of a Continent

By Jessica B. Harris


The Africa Cookbook  
From Capetown to Cairo Mombasa to Monrovia, the African continent is laden with tastes and aromas that are at the same time familiar and yet exotic. Fresh fish still glistening with sea water await grilling over hot coals and baskets of fragrant mangoes perfume the air with the musky scent of the tropics until time for dessert. The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent by Jessica B. Harris, offers a culinary journey through this vast and impressive continent of cuisines.

The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent takes armchair travelers, food scholars, and stove-facing cooks alike on a continent-wide tour. The forest regions of the continent's west where markets dazzle with an array of leafy greens and root vegetables, the spice sellers' stands of the souks of the North with ingredients ranging from cumin to rose petals and the food of Swahili coastal culture of the extreme east all appear. There are also visits to Capetown and the extreme South where farm stands offer a bounty of fruits and vegetables that rival those of the best farmers' markets. The Africa Cookbook brings the tastes of the continent to American kitchens in a kaleidoscope of flavor and color.

Cook, cookbook author, food scholar and inveterate traveler, Harris has truly tasted Africa through adventure. "I've ridden on the back of a motorbike from the Hilton hotel deep into the souks of the Chellah in Rabat in search of spices and eaten blood sausage in the open market in Kenya on a dare," she says. I've sipped champagne served by white-gloved servants in the homes of high government officials in Côte d'lvoire, been served cool water in a chipped enamel basin by tattooed co-wives in Benin. I've had dinner with the Virgin Mary and placed my hand in the communal bowl in too many countries to note, I've slept in fancy hotels and dined under stars in the bush."

While African food may seem exotic to many, it's as familiar as couscous, okra stews, black-eyed peas and rice, and even coffee-all of which originated on the continent. Africa also maintains a respect for the cook and love of spicing and throughout the continent, culinary skills and the art of seasoning well are still prized. The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent offers authentic African dishes chosen for their ability to be created by home cooks using accessible ingredients. Dambun Nama, shredded beef from Nigeria, Brik aux champignons, mushrooms in flaky pastry from Algeria, and refreshing Corossol, soursop milk from Benin are three of the taste-tempting recipes included.

Extraordinary in its range of information, The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent is more than just a collection of recipes, it is also the story of the places that created them. Fascinating detail about different regions of the continent, explanations of ingredients, an extensive glossary and listing of mail order sources, coupled with tales of Harris's personal adventures make The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent part travel memoir, part culinary history and all together fascinating cookbook.


The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent
By Jessica B. Harris
Simon & Schuster
Hardback, $25.00
382 pages
ISBN: 0-684-80275-9
Information provided by the publisher.


The Africa Cookbook



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This page created January 1999