Yes, the title is a pun on the fantastic four, but I didn’t need to point it out; you already knew that. You also know that man shall not live by bread alone or jollof rice, for that matter. Africa has a total of 54 countries, and although Nigerians, Ghanaians, and the Senegalese keep arguing over who has the best Jollof rice on this continent, it is essential to state that we have other delicacies. The point of this article is to help you make an informed decision when next you are at a buffet, and you get to choose what African meal to have, or whenever you decide to do some continental dish experimentation in your kitchen to celebrate during this festive season.
While writing this, I was forced to screen out some pretty amazing dishes, which I might write about sometime in the future depending on how well you engage this post, but for now, I have settled on four particular culinary delights that opened my tastebuds to a whole new world. Yup! The meals listed below are like portals, one bite, and you might as well chew up the localities where they originate from, their history, culture, and… just kidding, no one wants to eat culture. But seriously, try this list, and I guarantee you’ll beg me to make a top ten list. If I’m wrong, you have my permission to seize all my food after Christmas, and that’s on the birthday boy.
1. Biltong: This mouthwatering snack was originally made only during winter. Thanks to the cold weather, mold and bacterial growth risk were reduced to a bare minimum. Biltong is made of dried, cured meat and is native to South African countries such as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, and Malawi. It can be described in short as the ultimate meat alliance. It is made up of a variety of meat selections from domestic meat such as beef to game meat like a particular species of antelope called ‘kudu,’ and even to the long flightless bird – the ostrich. Yes! People actually eat this, and before you judge the meal before tasting it, I should point out that Biltong is a top-rated meal in many restaurants and online reviews worldwide. Some have referred to it as the African beef jerky, but I disagree. Biltong isn’t some rip-off of beef jerky; rather, Biltong is the meal that beef jerky would want to be like… you know if food could aspire. Try it, thank me later.
2. Pounded yam and Egusi: Deriving its origin in southwestern Nigeria, pounded yam, just as the name suggests, is made from beating yam in a mortar with a pestle until it becomes a smooth doughy morsel. The process for properly made pounded yam is a bit more complicated, of course, and you might want to watch a tutorial video before trying it out, but trust me, the process makes the meal even more satisfying. The morsel is eaten with Egusi, made from melon soup, palm oil, and various protein assortments such as beef, crayfish, ponmo (cow skin), and bushmeat. Wash this down with a cold glass or calabash of palm wine, and you may never want to eat anything else.
3. Peanut butter soup: Hold on, I know you cocked your head to the side when you read the name, but I kid you not, this is an actual meal, and it is exquisite. From the West African country of Ghana, this combination of onions, chicken stock, chicken. Ginger, garlic cloves, hot pepper, salt, stockfish, and peanut butter force a feeling of culinary ecstasy from those who eat it. The preparation process is rather straightforward, and the end result is magnificent. The soup, much like regular peanut butter, is very accommodating and can be eaten with various morsels such as fufu or grains such as rice. Go on, look it up; you’ll be glad you did.
4. Injera: I picked this last meal for the vegetarians reading this post. Yes, I am very considerate, and you should reward me by reading this blog more often. Haha, just kidding… okay, maybe I’m not kidding, but let’s talk about the meal. Injera originates from Ethiopia and is a type of sour fermented flatbread. The sponge-textured dish is not only delicious, but it is also extremely nutritious and is the meal with the most fiber per serving ratio in the world! Injera is low in fat yet high in carbohydrates and will give you all the energy you need to go about this festive season. There are just two major ingredients central to a proper Injera dish: Teff and grain.
In conclusion, I doubt if anyone can eat all the food in the world, but eating these four will definitely make up for the other meals you might never get to taste. Don’t be scared to try something new. It’s the biggest holiday season in the world. Go out there – or into your kitchen, really – and make it happen!