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brown roots like sweet potatoes but larger.

Eto: yams before they are cooked

What is Eto made of?

Eto is a kind of food that people ate in West Africa. You cooked yams until they were soft, and then mashed them. Then you added eggs and palm oil. This made a rich, satisfying food that people loved to eat.

What is palm oil?
African food history
West African history
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People ate it when they were sick, or if they had no teeth left to chew food. People gave gifts of these mashed yams to the gods, because the gods really liked to eat eto.

African medicine and science
Religion in early Africa

Orange slices of yam on a plate

Cooked yams on a plate

Offering eto to the gods

When farmers picked the first ripe yams every year, the priestesses would use those yams to make some eto. Nobody was supposed to eat the new yams until the eto was done and the yams were blessed. Does this remind you of the Jewish holiday of Passover?

Eto and American slavery

People kept on eating eto in West Africa into the Middle Ages and after European traders started to come to West Africa. When these traders forced many West African people to go to America as slaves, they took their recipes with them.

Medieval African food
African-American slavery
Where do sweet potatoes come from?
Making sweet potato pie

American sweet potato pie

In America, they cooked sweet potatoes in the same way that they had cooked yams at home. American sweet potato pie, for example, is made with mashed sweet potatoes mixed with eggs and butter or oil.

Here’s a West African story about Anansi that has eto in it.

Learn by doing: a day in ancient Africa

More about African food

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

African Food
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Ancient Egyptian Food
Islamic Food
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