Start A Tasty Exploration of Africa at Home Tonight
By Deborah Wheeler
You can travel the world without stepping on a plane. You can learn more about a culture right in your own home. You can bring your whole family on an adventure for just a few dollars. How? By experiencing the traditional and authentic foods of a place. Now, I don’t believe there will ever be a home-cooked Italian meal in my house that will ever match up to the dining experience I had one Easter holiday at Hostaria Antica Roma on the Appian Way in Rome. And some of my most significant travel memories around the world are connected to those amazing foods and places I visited. For example, eating a French baguette under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, having Mongolian Barbeque in China, and eating fidua with aioli for dinner in Barcelona. But, you can begin to experience far off places just by trying something new for dinner tonight.
Exotic spices, surprising tastes, and unique recipes can take you on a journey of discovery. If you are already an adventurous and knowledgeable foodie, or, just beginning to explore the world of food, you can get inspiration and ideas from any country in the world. Where would you go if you could go anywhere? Start there and explore the foods that make that place truly unique in the world. For those new to the wide range of spices available, start with the brief Enspicelopedia found on the McCormick website.
I have eaten tasty dishes on several lovely Greek Islands, savored feasts under the stars in Tahiti, and sampled local delicacies in Istanbul. And it makes me want to continue expanding my culinary horizons. I am going to explore the foods of Africa next in preparation for the dream trips I hope to take there someday soon. Up first on my destination wish list is: Morocco. But, until that trip is booked, I will be tempted by the foods of Morocco, and, the spices and tastes of the many countries that make up Africa. While this is only a little “taste” of Africa and those places I will eventually visit, there couldn’t be a more interesting and delicious way to start exploring now. I started my culinary exploration by finding recipes that were just a slight variation from my usual dinner favorites, but used spices in new ways from the routine.
I recently made Kofta at home for the first time. I followed an easy kofta recipe that turned out to be absolutely delicious. The spices and fragrances combined in new and fresh ways for me that stimulated my imagination of Egypt and notable Middle Eastern destinations. Then, an article on harissa at NPR’s food blog , The Salt, had my mouth watering at the idea of trying the hot sauce. As a fan of sriracha, a Thai hot sauce that I find adds a nice complexity to dishes without tons of heat, I am certain that I will like this, too. I will start by looking for this particular hot sauce in one of the downtown Phoenix ethnic food markets . If I can’t find it there, I plan to try making a simple paste myself like the harissa recipe suggested at grouprecipes.com. I am also inspired to try some of the African recipes recommended by Food.com. I am certainly feeling adventurous now—and hungry!
Start your Africa adventure today by selecting a new recipe online, talking with the family about the “family dinner adventure” you have cooked up, spending some time in the spice aisle at the grocery store, taking a special trip to an ethnic market you haven’t visited before, or scouring the back of your spice collection for that spice you haven’t known how to use until today. You can make this dining adventure a regular part of family dinners and include conversations with the kids about the country of origin, or, you can make a special exotic meal an aspect of “date nights” for just the two of you. However you choose to dine, you will almost always open a new door to a larger world worth exploring.
I wish you all Happy Travels and Good Eating!
- Following the Flavors from Africa to America
- A Trip Around the World by Way of Seasonings
- African Studies Center