Diet/ Food/ Southern African Food/ West African Food

An Introduction to African Breakfasts

Fermented Finger Millet Porridge

Hi friends. Welcome back to my blog and thank you so much for reading. In this post I will give you an introduction to African breakfasts.

I had an amazing experience this weekend. If you have been following me for years you would have noticed a time when things slowed down with this blog and a time where it actually disappeared altogether. I am so happy to be back, things are not perfect yet but we keep improving as we go.

Reddit Loves Us

So, what wonderful thing happened? Since relaunching I have been working frantically to get my blog back up to a healthy readership again. In fact, I re-launched from scratch and finally started getting Google hits again from 3 July 2020. So I have started getting active again on Pinterest, am using a preview ap to organize my Instagram, and suddenly had a brainwave to see if Reddit would help with my efforts. I posted one question on Reddit then went to bed. I woke up to a flood of new followers and subscribers, plus a spike in blog activity. My post had been upvoted 2800 times overnight. Currently, it has 3.7k upvotes. I was encouraged to start a subReddit, which I did about 20 days ago, but as soon as I shared it, I gained nearly 400 members. This was a truly unexpected and welcomed experience.

Since then, I have received a few questions about African breakfast from my original Reddit Cooking post so I am posting a few answers here. They range from old school traditional, to modern conveniences and those left by outside influences. But just before I start with then answers, if Reddit is your thing and you want to learn about African food, please join the new subReddit called West African Food.

1. Fermented Millet Porridge

This is an almost universal breakfast across the continent and it has been recorded by visitors as far back as the Middle ages. Since the introduction of corn, we can find corn versions in Nigeria (pap, smooth like custard) or in Ghana (koko, a little course and filled with warming spices like cloves and ginger). In East Africa is it called uji, Southern Africa like Botswana it is called ting. I believe this is one of the oldest African foods we can still find today. Millet is our bread, and some tribes liken it to God lol. In Southern Africa you could have a slice of bread with it. In West Africa, definitely, some fried savoury bean balls called akara, or sweeter beignets called puff puff. The sweet and savoury sounds odd but let me assure you it is heaven filled.

2. Cornmeal Porridge

My kids are half Zimbabwean, and growing up in Botswana, Southern Africa, means that I was accustomed to having cornmeal porridge for breakfast. Sugar and a topping of milk is pretty standard to add. A dollop of butter made it particularly delicious. But the Zimbabwean way to have it tops the charts; they add peanut butter. This not only makes it more interesting but it becomes highly nourishing as well.

3. Ordinary Cereal Like Oats and Cornflakes

Many home cooks are grateful. I remember Kellogs frosties as a kid growing up in Botswana. Sheesh, Cerelac is baby food but I will eat it any day. What are my kids eating? They eat a lot of Cheerios, CocoPops and Golden Morn, a corn-based cereal.

4. Bread

I feel very proud every time my kids eat toast and scrambled eggs. I have very young ones who tend to live on air and butter rice, so I have proud moments when I see some nutrition appreciated. Bread has become very important. Even the poorest of the poor can afford a loaf. In Botswana where I grew up, standard sliced salted bread was everywhere. I now live in Nigeria and we have this sweet, air-filled brioche-like bread called Agege bread, closely linked to Jamaican bread.

5. The typical West African style

This is to eat what you would consider lunch for breakfast. So you get a lot of men eating heavy meals ahead of a long day at work. Meals like banku and pepper with fish. I see a lot of bread and beans being eaten here in Lagos, Nigeria. What is very popular, and has been taken up in restaurant culture here is yam and egg sauce. The Nigerian version looks like scrambled eggs with a bit of onion, tomato, and scotch bonnet chili. Sometimes smoked fish is added.

The Ghanaian version has more of the tomato sauce. I have eaten breakfast with Nigerians out of Nigeria and yam with egg sauce is still the go-to. I have even seen sugar being added to the yam as it boils which I found quite interesting. This probably acted as a flavor enhancer for the yam, which can be bitter at times, while some varieties have a natural sweetness.

Give It A Try

There is so much more I could add here and no doubt in a couple of years I will have more to say and amendments to make. I hope you enjoyed a little bit about everyday life and tradition in this post. One tip I would give you is to start with whatever is easiest, yam and egg sauce or cornmeal porridge.

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