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Meat Recipes

Meat is any food derived from animal flesh, except fish or fowl. In Africa, meat is mostly beef from cattle or wild game (Bushmeat). Goats and sheep are also kept and eaten.

girl with cattle, angola

Certain African peoples have kept cattle since ancient times. Keeping cattle may have begun in the Rift Valley of Kenya and Tanzania in the 1st millennium BC. The Maasai people of Eastern Africa may be Africa's most famous cattle-keepers. They believe that all cattle were originally given by God to them, therefore if the Maasai take cattle from any other people they are merely re-claiming what is rightfully theirs. But cattle-keeping does not always imply beef-eating. In many cases, traditional African herdsmen are loathe to slaughter their cattle for food. Instead, cattle are a source of milk and sometimes blood, as well as a store of wealth and currency for trade. Today, cattle are most common in Eastern, Southern, and Western Africa. However, in many parts of Africa the tsetse fly and the diseases it spreads or a inhospitable climate make keeping livestock impossible. Where people do not keep livestock the traditional meat is bushmeat, i.e., wild game, which can be anything from antelope to zebra.

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Richard Francis Burton

Meat is the diet most prized

Between 1856 and 1859 Richard Francis Burton traveled from Zanzibar to Lake Tanganyika and back, and then wrote The Lake Regions of Central Africa: A Picture of Exploration (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1860; reprinted by Dover Publications, and by Scholarly Press). Burton wrote this about people's love of meat in Eastern Africa:

The principal articles of diet are fish and flesh, grain and vegetable; the luxuries are milk and butter, honey, and a few fruits, as bananas and Guinea-palm dates; the inebriants are pombe or millet-beer, toddy, and mawa or plantain-wine.

Fish is found in the lakes and in the many rivers of this well-watered land; it is despised by those who can afford flesh, but it is a "godsend" to travelers, to slaves, and to the poor. Meat is the diet most prized; it is, however, a luxury beyond the reach of peasantry, except when they can pick up the orts of the chiefs. The Arabs assert that in these latitudes vegetables cause heartburn and acidity, and that animal food is the most digestible. The Africans seem to have made the same discovery: a man who can afford it almost confines himself to flesh, and he considers fat the essential element of good living. The crave for meat is satisfied by eating almost every description of living thing, clean or unclean; as a rule, however, the East African prefers beef, which strangers find flatulent and heating. Like most people, they reject game when they can command the flesh of tame beasts. Next to the bullock the goat is preferred in the interior; as indeed by the Arabs of Zanzibar island... In this part of Africa the cheapest and vilest meat is mutton... Of late years it has become the fashion to eat poultry and pigeons; eggs, however, are still avoided. ... Of wild flesh, the favorite is that of the zebra; it is smoked or jerked, despite which it retains a most savory flavor.
[Chapter XVIII - Village Life in East Africa]

Other African gastronomical excerpts

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