Book reviews:    South of the Sahara Traditional Cooking from the Lands of West Africa

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South of the Sahara: Traditional Cooking from the Lands of West Africa
Elizabeth A. Jackson
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This book may be a bit of a stranger amongst all the other books about wildlife and photography on this website. It is a cooking book about the traditional cooking from countries in West-Africa. A few years ago I was able to make a trip to West-Africa and visit The Gambia and Senegal. One of the nice memories of this trip was the delightfull food offered in these contries. Browsing through this book brought back so many fond memories of the places I have visited there.

The book is written by Elizabeth Jackson who was born and raised in Nigeria. Maybe the West African food caught her interest already at young age, since she got a degree in nutrition later on. She has worked many years in the nutrition and food service industry and lives in England nowadays.

book26b.jpg (45961 bytes)The book offers a selection of 120 different dishes. There are 70 full color photographs in the book displaying the finished recipe. When browsing through the book and looking at the photographs of those wonderfull dishes, you immediately feel like running towards the kitchen to start preparing them.

The book has a brief introduction and starts with cool drinks (ever wondered how to make Ginger Beer or Pineapple Spice drink?) and small chops. Small chops are delightfull small snacks. They are eaten by the local people who generally have only one big meal a day. Just reading the names of Paw-Paw bread and Plantain Fritters made my mouth water.

There are also recipes on Soups, Rice entrees and Sidedishes, Starches and Grains and Miya. Miya is the name used in Nigeria for a spicy sauce to be served with the main dish. The recipes include Chicken and Meat, Fish and Seafood and Vegetables. There is a lot of variation in the recipes described and each of them is delicious.

The last part of the recipes is about desserts. How does Cinnamon-Orange Chin-chin sound? Chin-chin is fried pastry and tastes lovely. And so does Fried Plantains with sugar and cream. Writing this makes me hungry.

The book ends with a helpfull section on how and where to buy the ingredients mentioned in the recipes. Today most ingredients mentioned in this book are available at supermarkets everywhere in the world. So without having to travel to western Africa you can still enjoy their culinary traditions.

The book also has several pieces with anecdotes and information about western Africa in each chapter.

Conclusion: If you have ever visited West-Africa this book will bring back wonderfull memories. But even if you haven't visited these regions, the book offers you a choice of delightfull dishes. Each of them is easy to produce and ingredients are widely available. If you like fine food and like to cook, this book is great.

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