African food before farming
Before people started farming, African hunters and gatherers ate mainly fruit (especially figs), with some meat and fish and seafood and eggs. Along the coasts, Africans also fished and gathered shellfish.
Early African history
Where do figs come from?
History of fishing
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What did African people eat?
They harvested wild grain and nuts to eat, and gathered honey. They got a lot of their fat from nuts, groundnuts, and palm oil. By 7000 BC, people in North Africa also began herding local cattle. People milked the cows and made yogurt and cheese.
History of honey
What is palm oil for?
Medieval African food
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Teff, millet, barley and beer
Around 6000 BC, as the climate changed and the Sahara Desert gradually took over the grasslands, it got harder to get food and so some African people began to farm some of their food. By 4000 BC, people in Ethiopia, and Eretria had domesticated a grain called teff, and in Sudan people had domesticated millet and sorghum. Millet is a lot like barley and could also be made into bread or mush (like a thick oatmeal). People in West Africa also gradually domesticated local millet and other grasses.
History of millet
What is sorghum?
Beginning of farming
In North Africa and Egypt, people farmed millet too, but also, the wheat and barley, lentils and chickpeas that had already been domesticated in West Asia. So these people began to eat mainly pita bread and porridge and barley soups, like the people of West Asia. People in Egypt also made their barley into beer.
History of barley
What about chickpeas?
When did people start to drink beer?
Sheep and goats
Around the same time, African people also got sheep and goats and pigs from West Asia. Some people kept sheep and goats and cattle, and others were farmers. The shepherds traded their meat and cheese to the farmers for bread and beer.
History of sheep
Where did cattle come from?
What about pigs?
Chicken replaces pork
Sometime around 1500 BC, during the Egyptian New Kingdom, people in Egypt started to eat chicken. Around the same time, rich people stopped eating pork, which became taboo (forbidden) for them.
History of chicken
West African yams
In the rain forests south of the Sudan, you couldn’t grow any kind of grasses, because it was too wet and jungly.
More about Eto
What is Aloco?
Here people began to farm root vegetables, especially yams, and so they lived mainly on yams and a lot of dried fish. One kind of food cooked with yams was eto. But people still also kept eating all the foods they had eaten before they started farming: figs and honey, groundnuts, palm oil, and fish.
Food in ancient Egypt
Food in medieval Africa
Bibliography and further reading about African food:
Food and Recipes of Africa (Kids in the Kitchen.) by Theresa M. Beatty
The People of Africa and Their Food (Multicultural Cookbooks) by Ann Burckhardt
A Taste of West Africa (Food Around the World) by Colin Harris
This is a helpful website ;) :) :) :) :) :) :)
can i get the proper information abt this little bit more if u can coz im not satisfied with this much only plz if u can im asking u coz i liked this information so im asking for more from ur side thank you……
Hi! I’d be happy to answer specific questions; just post them here or email me. I don’t want to try to guess what “more” information you would find interesting.
Very informative. Thanks so much!
Bananas didn’t reach Africa until the Middle Ages. You can read about that here: https://quatr.us/africa/medieval-africa-food-people-eat.htm
Lovely info, thxs
what time was this?
There are dates in the article. If you are interested in African food in the Middle Ages, there’s a link at the end of the article for that. We also have an article about African food during colonization here: https://quatr.us/africa/african-food-colonization.htm
Terrible resource nothing like in Africa where I lived
This is the food of early Africa, not Africa today. What people eat in Africa has changed a lot over the last 2000 years.
you don’t know anything about this subject I was a cook at a restaurant and know all the old dishes you think you are smart you are wrong.
I’m really interested in getting it right; could you tell me specifically what you feel is wrong?
I’m s chef would love to know the food sebs!
im using this website for my project, thanks for the great info! :)
where can I find fruits from west africa?
You might want to read this article: https://quatr.us/africa/figs-come-from-history.htm and this one:https://quatr.us/africa/medieval-africa-food-people-eat.htm about how bananas came to West Africa.
Thanks, this is really great information!
Wonderful! I’m glad you liked it.
I’m so sorry! We’ll check that out and try to get rid of them. Thanks for taking the time to let us know.