by: Trecia Olson
Africa is one of the world leaders in the production of cacao, cassava, cashews, cloves, palm kernels, vanilla beans, and yams. It is also a major producer in the production of bananas, coffee, cotton, peanuts, rubber, sugar, and tea.
Because of varying climates and land, African food production varies for different regions and countries. However, there are many foods across the regions that are common staple foods for the African people. One of these is millet. Millet consists of tall stalks about five to six feet tall with a head of grain. It is often used in porridges or as an alcoholic drink.
Another important and widely grown food is cassava. Cassava resembles a potato and the plant only grows about one to two feet high. It can be used to form a sour dough-like bread but is often dried into a flour. One type of cassava is called gari. The roots are pulled, soaked in water, and sun dried. Palm oil is added and the cassava is roasted.
Yams are also important in Africa. In Nigeria the yams are fried to make a snack called "small chop." These are eaten similar to french fries in America.
Bananas are grown in many of the rain forest areas. Plantains are banana like and are fried or dried.
Groundnuts or peanuts are also produced in many areas. Peanut sauces are made when the peanuts are shelled, roasted, then ground to a paste. Many peanuts are also made into groundnut or peanut stew.
Cacao tress are very important to Africa as well as the rest of the world. The pods are knocked off trees and cut open by long knives called cutlasses. The beans are separated from the pods and wrapped in leaves to ferment. Then they are left to dry. From here they are transported to different areas of the world to form cocoa or chocolate.
Many Africans make a living from agriculture. Most grow their own food. Typically Africans eat one large meal in the evening. This meal usually consists of a starchy food (yams or rice) with a sauce and vegetables and sometimes bits of meat. One common dish is fou-fou which is a starchy substance about the consistency of pudding. It is scooped up with three fingers then dipped in a stew. Fou-fou is made from cassava or white yams in Ga and Ghana (West African countries). The Hausa tribe makes it from cornmeal , and Nigerians make it from rice.
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