Thursday, December 20, 2007

East and West African Food and Foodways

African food historians and scholars who are based in Africa can lead lonely lives. They need contact with and support of like-minded people. We need them to share their insights and publish their findings. I recently heard from Forka Leypey Mathew, in Yaounde, Cameroon, who has studied the social history of how traditional food preparation and eating patterns have changed among several groups in Cameroon, including the Bakweri (occupants of Buea and Limbe), Mbo (occupants of Melong, Santchou, Nkongsamba and other villages), Bamum (occupants of Foumban), Wawa (occupants of Banyo), Doowaayo (occupants of Poli), Guidar (occupants of Guider) and Kotoko (occupants of Kousseri and the entire Cameroon section of the Lake Chad Basin). Matew ( welcomes correspondence with others who share similar interests.

Scholars outside of Africa are also doing exciting things. In 2006, Verena Raschke completed her doctoral work cojointly at the University of Vienna in Austria and Monash University in Australia, studying traditional East African food habits and their health benefits, and has made quite a bit of information available online. She's also been actively publishing the results of her research. For example:

1. Raschke V, Cheema B. Colonization, the New World Order and the Eradication of Traditional Food Habits in East Africa: Historical Perspective on the Nutrition Transition. Public Health Nutrition, in press, 2007

2. Raschke V, Oltersdorf U, Elmadfa I, Wahlqvist M, Cheema B, Kouris-Blazos A. Investigation of the Dietary Intake and Health Status in East Africa in the 1960s: A Systematic Review of the Historic Oltersdorf Collection. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, in press, 2007

3. Raschke V, Oltersdorf U, Elmadfa I, Wahlqvist M, Cheema B, Kouris-Blazos A. Content of a novel online collection of traditional east African food habits (1930s-1960s): Data collected by the Max-Planck-Nutrition Research Unit, Bumbuli, Tanzania. Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 16:140-51, 2007

4. Raschke V, Oltersdorf U, Elmadfa I, Wahlqvist M, Cheema B, Kouris-Blazos A. The need for an online collection of traditional African food habits. African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND Online), 7(1), 2007; Available at:

5. Raschke V, East African Food Habits On-line. In: Wahlqvist ML. Healthy Eating Club. Melbourne, HEC Press. Web-site:; 2005

Let's continue to identify and promote those who take African cuisine and food history seriously!

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At 12:41 PM, Blogger Cris Couto said...

dear fran,
I am so glad to find a blog that concerns about food history so seriously (even with paper references)! the only ones I'm used to are albala's and laudan's blog, which are great too. i'm a food brazilian journalist, and i'm also starting my Phd on brazilian food history. congratulations for your blog! happy new year!
best regards

At 4:31 PM, Blogger Fran said...

Thank you for the encouraging words. Let's keep in touch. What aspect of Brazilian food history interests you?

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Jeena said...

Hi there you have such a lovely blog. I have a blog also here is my link Food Recipes

Let me know if you would like to exchange links. Thanks Jeena x

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Cris Couto said...

Right know, after some time without researching (i'm a food jornalist for a living), i'll start my phd project. i'm focusing my research in old brazilian/portuguese cookbooks (19th century) and it's relation with medical and chemical theories. I will also start studing questions about taste. are you plannig to come back to brazil soon?

At 5:42 PM, Blogger dzigbodi said...

Love your blog. I'm interested in African foods. Especially Ghanaian cuisine. I don't think much research has been done into the Northern/Upper region foods. I'd love to taste that Takai drink. How do I get in touch with you? I live in the U.S. and I'm from Ghana. Great job. Thanks.


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