Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cooking or Baking (01/04/07)
TITLE: BAKING IN THE AFRICAN WAY
By Charlotte Njua
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In Africa, unlike in the developed world, cooking is still carried out using crude methods like the ‘three stone’ fire place or the fire wood cooker, the kerosene stove or the ‘sawdust tin.’ Very few people use electric or gas cookers and still fewer use microwave ovens. Most of the cooking done is boiling, frying or roasting, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa where most people use local ovens made of mud. Others put sand in pots and heat them, these they use as ovens. This is similar to what happens in Northern Africa where most of the baking is done in hot sand. It is a very interesting process and it is similar to what used to occur in the ‘Abrahamaic’ period since most of the Hebrews were nomads and desert dwellers.
Some Africans are also involved in large scale baking especially of bread and diverse cakes which are still seen as a luxury in most parts of Africa. Most people when leaving town to their villages always buy bread from town to give to their relatives when the get home because that is a luxury most people can’t afford. Some rare ones often add cakes and biscuits to the bread making themselves heroes in the eyes of the village kids whose usual knowledge of biscuit is what is left in the pot of ‘corn-fufu’ after their mothers have finished removing it. This is called in local jargon ‘country biscuit.’ There are also some large scale bakeries in the big towns and cities who make available to the population that t can afford them delicacies recognised in the international scene like croissants, hamburgers of various kinds, sandwiches, hotdogs and different varieties of cakes, cookies and biscuits. However most of these are not baked there but imported. Generally these food items are considered by Africans as luxuries though in the last few years they have become more available to the local populations due to globalisation especially in the major towns and cities.
In essence, cooking or baking is meant to ameliorate on the taste of food, its quality and to render it safer for human consumption. Africa still has a long way to go in modernising this institution and making available for the people the kind of delicacies that they get to see only on foreign channels, but until then they will have to make do on what they have now.
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