Understanding Food Supplier Challenges

Incorporating The Staples Of West African Diet Into Your Own Menu

Too often, American families get locked into a cycle of eating the same endlessly recycled meals and foods, never venturing much farther than a mundane plate of pork chops or the occasional burrito. But if you are sick of spaghetti nights, there is a whole world of new cuisines waiting to be discovered, and it's often best to start with the places you might otherwise overlook. Take, for example, West Africa. Although it was once nearly impossible to find authentic ingredients in the United States, it is now relatively easy to buy African food online and begin incorporating their delicious staples and recipes into your own menu. 

Yams, Cassava and Carbohydrates

A typical West African diet places a heavy emphasis on starchy roots like yams and cassavas. These roots can be diced up, cooked and served as part of a larger dish, but they are also often ground up into flour and served with flavorful soups to create favorite dishes such as fufu. Other carbohydrate sources like rice, maize and wheat are all also grown and consumed in West Africa, though typically to a lesser extent than in other parts of the continent. 

Spices, Nuts and Vegetables

West Africa has long acted as a trading hub between Europe, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, and the abundance of spices in its foods today bears testament to the riches that once flowed through the region on a daily basis. Rich peanut sauces, cinnamon, ginger and even less familiar flavor additives like rose petals all play a prominent role in West African cuisine, but the most valued spice of all is the common chili pepper. These zesty peppers can be found in many dishes and add a zesty kick to what might otherwise be an unremarkable meal. Toss in some vegetables like eggplant or squash to really pull a West-African-inspired dish together. 

Goat Products, Mutton and Seafood

Beef is consumed in West Africa, but poorer families typically eat meat from smaller herding animals like goats and sheep. Goat meat is similar to a mix of beef, mutton and venison; their milk tastes very similar to that of a cow, but it tends to have a higher butterfat concentration. Another important source of protein is seafood, which is still abundant off the coast and frequently smoked and served with other meats. You don't need to be West African or an expert in their heritage to begin enjoying their rich culinary culture. By using authentic ingredients and simply incorporating them into your own dishes, you can begin tasting the rest of the world without needing to become a master chef in the process.