Seven Grains of Paradise tells the fascinating and much neglected story about many kinds of food in Africa, a continent with a rich farming tradition, intricate cuisines and a multitude of food cultures.
Centuries of disparaging judgements and a half century of media reports churning out images of famine, disease and conflict on the continent, have eclipsed the facts that Africans have marvellous local foods and culinary delicacies, and that small family farms still feed most of the continent.
Here is the story of Baxter’s personal quest to learn about some fascinating and new (to her) foods in a handful of countries in sub-Sahara Africa as she visits African farms, markets, restaurants and kitchens. Her guides are the people who grow, sell, buy, prepare, and serve the foods. They help her explore the riddles of a continent better known for hunger than for its plentiful food resources. It draws on stories and research conducted over the more than thirty years that she has lived and worked in Africa.
From the fabled city of Timbuktu on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, to the diamond fields of Sierra Leone, from the savannah of northern Ghana, to the rainforests of Central Africa, readers are invited along on a delightful journey of learning and eating – and some drinking too, of invigorating indigenous beverages, brews and palm wine straight from the trees. The culinary journey takes the reader down garden paths, into forests that double as farms, through the chaos of markets and into modest little roadside eateries.
Baxter, a journalist, anthropologist, development researcher and writer, and Senior Fellow with the independent think tank, the Oakland Institute, does not shy away from the realities of hunger and poverty and the real lack of amenities, health facilities, and sanitation on the continent. While the book highlights the complexities and delights of African foods and family farms, it also documents the growing risks they face.
“The wealth of information about traditional foods in this book thus provides motivation for a paradigm shift to improve the lives of Africans; not to mention the health of our planet. A must-read for ‘foodies,’ Africa-lovers and development workers.”
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