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Africa has an immensely rich culinary history and a huge variety of foodstuffs is consumed there, reflecting the myriad influences that have shaped what people eat and how they prepare and consume food and drink.
Outsiders are often surprised to learn this, given the association of the continent with famine, drought and other hardships. "Stirring the Pot" describes how the ingredients, methods and varieties of African cuisine comprise a repository of tried and tested household and farming knowledge, mostly preserved by women.
It also reveals how recipes, tastes and culinary practices are integral to understanding the continent's history.
For example, three indigenous grain crops-millet, sorghum, and teff-made the transition from wild grasses to domesticated grains at the hands of Africans.
The author also traces how African food is the sum of many parts, be they the foodstuffs of the New World - maize, peanuts, tomatoes and potatoes - or those of the Indian Ocean - spices and Asian rice.
Nor does he neglect to describe how Creole, African-American and Caribbean cuisines have themselves been indelibly altered by the African encounter.
James McCann is an enthusiastic advocate of African cooking, a passion conveyed by the many recipes contained in his book, such as the best way to cook jollof rice, prepare an injera pancake or thicken Nigerian yam pottage with boiled crayfish shells.
He also recounts his own culinary encounters across the continent, from memorable meals, to unearthing the complex dining practices of the Ethiopian royal court or describing the hybrid, fish-based cooking of port cities such as Mombasa, Luanda and Durban.
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