The Congo Cookbook homepage
Welcome to The Congo Cookbook, a collection of African recipes (hundreds!) from All over Africa, plus information About African Cooking and Women's Work, cuisine, culture, food, gastronomy, and history. Featuring African Proverbs, Excerpts from historic texts, and Rare Recipes. Hints on How to have an African Dinner Party at home, for school projects, for a club dinner, and for Kwanzaa celebrations. The FAQ describes and tells how to obtain a printed book or PDF file that has all of the recipes published on the Congo Cookbook website. Please enjoy!
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Appearing on the Liboké de Viande page:
This quotation from L'Encyclopèdie Pahouine (the adjective "Pahouin" refers to the Fang people of Central Africa), describes a banana-leaf recipe of the Fang people. L'Encyclopèdie Pahouine was written in 1901 by M. Largeau. The quotation appears in Cuisine Africaine: Specialites du Gabon (Editions Universelles, Toulouse, 1985):
In an envelope of double or triple banana leaves, wrap meat or fish, salt, pepper and "Esu", a substitute of our onion, plus a sufficient quantity of water. Cook this either in a pot, or directly over a fire low enough not to burn the banana leaves. One thus obtains a sauce called "nnani" which is eaten with manioc; one dips a handful of manioc into the sauce. It's excellent!
The original French:
Dans une enveloppe double ou triple de feuilles de bananier, on met avec une quantité suffisante d'eau, de la viande ou du poisson, du sel, du piment et un succédané de notre oignon appelé "Esu". On fait cuire, soit dans une marmite, soit directement sur un feu doux auquel résistent les feuilles de bananier. On obtient ainsi une sauce appelée "nnani" dans laquelle on trempe, en mangeant, sa bouchée de manioc. C'est excellent!
Robert Nassau spent most of his life working as a missionary in Central Africa. He describes banana-leaf cookery in this quotation from Fetichism in West Africa: Forty Years' Observation of Native Customs and Superstitions (originally published in 1904 by Charles Scribners; reprinted in 1969 by Negro Universities Press--Greenwood Publishing Corp., New York). This quotation is part of a section about how a woman can cook up a charm to make a man fall in love with her. This involves adding a few other ingredients to the dish, which is given to the man, "unaware of the special mode of preparation". "West Africa" in the book's title refers to Africa's west coast region.
The most attractive native mode of cooking fish and meat is in jomba ("bundle"). The flesh is cut into pieces and laid in layers with salt, pepper, some crushed oily nut, and a little water. These all are tied up tightly in several thicknesses of fresh green plantain leaves, and the bundle is set on a bed of hot coals. The water in the bundle is converted into steam before the thick fleshy leaves are charred through. The steam, unable to escape, permeates the fibres of the meat, thoroughly cooking it without boiling or burning.
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Appearing on the Greens in Africa page:
Ota mkpon oyum mba. (Efik) : The planter of koko (Colocasia esculenta) wishes but a seedling. N.B. -- Meaning, having a nest-egg, or something to begin with, he will multiply.
(from: Wit and Wisdom from West Africa, Richard Francis Burton)