Southern cuisine is the result of a splendid cultural convergence, deriving from the intersection of three foodways: British, Native American, and West African. The West African influence was particularly strong in the cuisine of the Lowcountry of South Carolina, where, long before the rise of cotton farming, a rice economy dependent upon enslaved labor ensured that West Africans were present in large numbers from the early days of the colony.
But what if, for some reason, West Africans had not been brought forcibly to the Lowcountry, and their cultural influence had not been felt in the region? To be sure, the entire history of the colony would have taken a dramatically different course. Lacking its rice cash crop, Charleston almost certainly would not have become one of colonial America’s wealthiest cities. And, the food its residents ate would have been very, very different.
This should come as no surprise to people who know how extensive West African culture has been on the Caribbean, South, and North America. From innovative ideas, inventions, music, cuisine, mythologies, science, and so much more. Today’s focus will be on the cuisine aspect though. I’ve made other posts touching on this subject before, but there is so much rich history; one can only be compelled to keep discussing or showcasing the subject.
Afro-Asian Foods cut across many borders bridging and bringing flavours of the Middle East, Orient and Africa together.
Gumbo: Derived from various Bantu dialects (Southern & Central Africa) terms for okra (i.e. quingumbo, grugombo, gumbo, gombo, ngombo gomboaud, ngumbo, ochinggombo).
Joesph JJ Johnson
“I came back a changed chef,” Johnson, 30, said. “Nobody wants to talk about how slaves took food and spread it across the world. I realized that I grew up on Diaspora food.”
Africans and The Making of the Americas: Part 4, Agriculture
Diverse groups of Africans from the coastal regions were highly skilled at clearing and cultivating forest land, an expertise that was unknown to Europeans at the time. One African technique involved burning delineated sections of forest and later using the ash for fertilizer, this had to be done carefully. Many also knew how to raise crops in semi-tropical and tropical soils; high temperatures and heavy rains cause nutrients to seep out more quickly than they do in temperate climates.