The American culinary canon has greatly expanded in the last few decades to include many “foreign” cuisines from around the world. Americans now regularly consume cuisines that were once seen as “strange” or “exotic” and have become well versed with once obscure ingredients such as galangal root or ghee. This expansion of the American culinary canon has not, however, been universally inclusive. Despite the broadening of the American palate, Americans have shown little interest in the cuisines of Sub-Saharan Africa. This article examines how this lack of interest in African cuisines may lie in the limited and often stereotyped representations of African cuisines by food journalists and restaurant reviewers in newspapers and gourmet food magazines, which still play highly influential roles in the shaping of the American palate. The article also explores how a shift in the narrative on African cuisines in “gastronomic journalism” can contribute to the further broadening of the American culinary canon.
How Not to Write About Africa: African Cuisines in Food Writing
Naa Baako Ako-Adjei obtained her MA from Queen’s University in 2002 and her BA in History and Political Science from the University of Toronto in 2001. Her interests are in the political, social, historical, and cultural contexts of food. She is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled “The Remaking of Culinary Traditions: Peanuts in West African Cuisines,” which investigates how the introduction of peanuts to West Africa changed culinary traditions in the region. She is now writing a chapter on the socioeconomic reasons that led to the peanut supplanting the native bambara bean (bambara groundnut). She is a classically trained chef.
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Naa Baako Ako-Adjei; How Not to Write About Africa: African Cuisines in Food Writing. Gastronomica 1 February 2015; 15 (1): 44–55. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2015.15.1.44
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