As I wait for the COVID-19 international travel restrictions to be rescinded, I dream about future destinations. Some are within my comfort zone while others are challenging. Since it is not possible to speculate when it will be safe for Americans to travel abroad, I read books, visit online sites, and try regional recipes.
One day in the future, my love for wildlife will be the impetus for a post-pandemic African trip. To prepare for this adventure, I am reading Sandy Salle’s cookbook—A Taste of Africa: Culinary Journeys throughout the World’s Most Beautiful Continent. From the comfort of my Colorado kitchen, African cuisine comes alive. When it is not possible to travel, cooking recipes from another continent offers an amazing gateway to authentic regional cuisine.
Sandy Salle is a native Zimbabwean who has traveled extensively throughout Africa. While living in the United States, she created a boutique travel company, Hills of Africa Travel, specializing in African safari vacations in southern and eastern Africa as well as central Africa.
The Table of Contents lists the cuisines—Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, and Kenya as well as a selection of home-cooked recipes. Each section includes a description of the destination along with a list of places to visit and possible accommodations—lodges, camps, private game reserve, houses, and guest farms.
Chefs from numerous places share their favorite recipes with photos showcasing culinary treasures from soup to dessert. Easy to follow instructions, along with a list of ingredients, entice readers to experiment. All of the recipes can be made in a home environment.
The format creates a hybrid approach combining useful travel information with regional recipes. Salles uses her expertise to pinpoint the selling points for each place mentioned. Color images compliment the text. Before booking a trip to one of these regions, I will definitely reread Salle’s advice. She showcases places offering exclusive treatments, specialized services, exemplary food, spa treatments, vineyards, and notable wildlife adventures.
Some recipes are comparable to American fare like David’s Chocolate Cake (Page32) while others like Sadza (Page 39) and Ibhobola (Page 42) reflect a staple of the local African diet. Interestingly, Sadza is similar to grits but much finer. Ibhobola is a dish made with pumpkin leaves in peanut butter.
Salle does an excellent job of describing regional dishes and their significance. Occasionally, she offers suggestions for ingredient substitutions like using beef in place of antelope or harder to find ostrich. Some recipes have a local twist. The recipe for South African French toast sounds like peach flavored bread pudding.
Even though I no longer eat meat, I was intrigued by the combination of spices (bay leaf, curry powder, black pepper, turmeric) and ingredients in Bobotie. (Page 34) The simple recipe for an Asian-style marinated fish matched with Wasabi mashed potatoes (Page 98) also caught my attention as well as a papaya caprese salad (page 113). I can only imagine how papaya enhances the taste of the other ingredients. Until reading the cookbook, I didn’t realize that feta and spinach samosas are ubiquitous at Southern and Eastern Africa restaurants or that butternut squash was a staple. I have yet to experience granadilla, an African passion fruit.
At the end of the cookbook, Salle shares a handful of her family’s recipes—from a childhood favorite called rusks (Page 192), a baked treat with variations that include nuts, raisins, dates, seeds or coconut, to chakalaka (Page 202), a spicy mixture of tomatoes, pepper, onion, garlic, and curry powder. The selection of recipes revealed the diverse elements of African cuisine.
This cookbook allows individuals living outside of Africa to gain an appreciation of an unfamiliar cuisine and experience the continent from the comfort of their home. Salle’s cookbook will be an asset for anyone seeking information about Southern and Eastern Africa upscale accommodations and food choices.
I received a complimentary copy of A Taste of Africa: Culinary Journeys Through the World’s Most Beautiful Continent.
When Sandy isn’t trekking or writing in Colorado, she is traveling. She has visited more than 40 countries and lived as an international teacher in Bangalore, India. Sandy’s award-winning book, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, is a resource for people contemplating an ex-pat lifestyle and living outside their comfort zone.
Sandy’s lifestyle and travel experiences are frequently shared with international and domestic online sites and print media. She has contributed stories to Hemispheres, Destinations Magazine, KUHL’s Born in the Mountain blog, Grand Magazine, Wandering Educators, Golden Living, AARP, Hadassah magazine, Localliz, One Travel, Miles Away, Canadian Jewish News, Getting On Travel, Far and Wide, Colorado Parent, Traveler Confidential, Family Circle- Momster, and others.