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recipes most fowl
Chickens were first domesticated in Asia, perhaps as early as 3,200 BC. The historical record indicates chickens were known in ancient Egypt by 1,400 BC, and later in the Greek and Roman empires. When they first arrived in sub-Saharan Africa is unknown, but they are now common throughout Africa as in the rest of the world. A similar bird, the guinea fowl, is native to Africa and is widely raised there. Both are often called kuku in many African languages. Nsusu or soso are words for chicken in the Congo region. Every culture has its own way of cooking chicken: one of the classic methods of preparing chicken in Africa is to stew it in a peanut and tomato sauce (this basic recipe goes by many names in different parts of Africa). Another delicious African chicken dish is Poulet Yassa, which is chicken marinated in an onion-mustard mixture.
Zanzibar; City, Island, and Coast (London: Tinsley Brothers, 18, Catherine St. Strand; 1872) records Richard Francis Burton's travels in the late 1850's in Zanzibar and the nearby Eastern Africa mainland. In this excerpt he describes "gallinaceous" birds in Africa:
At Zanzibar, as upon the Continent, fowls may be bought in every village, the rate being 6 to 12 for a dollar, which a few years ago procured 36. They are lean, for want of proper food; ill flavoured, from pecking fish, and miserably small . . . Yet they might be greatly improved; the central regions of Africa show splendid birds, with huge bodies and the shortest possible legs.
... Capons are manufactured by the blacks of Mayotte [island in the Mozambique Channel] and Nosi-beh (Great Island) [Comoros?]
... Madagascar sends hard, tasteless geese and common ducks, and Mozambique supplies turkeys which here are eaten by Arabs. The Muscovy duck, an aborigine of the Platine Valley, has of late years been naturalized -- it is a favourite with the Africans who delight in food which gives their teeth and masticatory apparatus the hardest and the longest labour. The only gallinaceous bird which Africa has contributed to civilization , the Guinea-hen, here called the 'Abyssinian cock', is trapped by slaves upon the mainland, and is brought to the Island for sale. As might be expected so near their mother-country, there are seven or eight varieties of this valuable fowl, and until late years some of the rarest and the most curious have been unwittingly used for the tale.
(Chapter 5 - Geographical and Physiological: Section 5: Notes on the Flora of Zanzibar)
Despite the ubiquity of the African chicken and guinea fowl, in some parts of Africa eggs are not often eaten. This is sometimes due to dietary customs and traditions, for example, many Africans believe that women should not eat eggs for fear it will cause problems in pregnancy. Ewart S. Grogan and Arthur H. Sharp, in their book From the Cape to Cairo: The First Traverse of Africa from South to North (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1972; first published by Hurst and Blackett, London 1900) tell this story:
The natives visited our camp in hundreds, and brought numerous presents of goats and sheep, and an unlimited quantity of supplies for sale. We told them that we wanted to buy eggs--a request that always astonishes the natives, who are not used to the ways of white men, as they themselves never eat them. One old gentleman rushed away, and shortly returned, bringing a dirty basket with a frowsy old hen and about fifteen small chicks emerging from the eggs, and was surprised because we said they were of no use to us. We tried to explain that we preferred them fresh, and he evidently thought that we were making a fool of him.
Chapter XI -- The Volcanoes [north of Lake Kivu]
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