Latin American and Caribbean Food and Cuisine
Latin American and Caribbean Food and Cuisine
The forced migration of Africans to the Americas by way of the slave trade brought culinary artists, expert agriculturalists, and metallurgists, as well as African-derived beliefs regarding the omnipotence of blacksmiths. Trinidad and Tobago, for example, have yearly feasts to honor the Yoruba deity Ogun, the god of iron and of revolution. Bondsmen and women perceived iron as both the enslaving shackles of Europeans and the African's tool of liberation.
Self-liberation and cultural retention were synonymous with the formation of Maroon societies—known as quilombos in Brazil, palenques in Colombia and Cuba, and cumbes in Venezuela—created by Africans who escaped into forests, hills, and bush areas of the Caribbean and South America. Once isolated, they formed their own communities, where many African culinary and other cultural patterns could be preserved. Maroon communities, however, were not the only societies dominated by African traditions. The continual influx and steady increase of Africans into the Caribbean and South America constantly rejuvenated African cultures, a persistent African cultural input, and a culinary revolution under the influence of Africans that would permeate every aspect of cooking and cuisine in rural and urban areas of every country in the Americas.
The Cuisine of the Caribbean
One region that became home to African cuisine and culture was the Caribbean, including economically and culturally the South American countries of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. Although geographically located in Central America, Belize and Mexico's Cancún and Cozumel are also part of the Caribbean. Mexicans of identifiable African descent are estimated at 120,000 to 300,000 persons, many of whom are farmers clinging to their ancestral roots and who live in Mexican towns such as Cuajiniculapa (formerly called "Little Africa"), located in the southwest corner of the state of Guerrero. Popular African-Mexican foods include mondongo (pig intestines), or chitlins in English. Many of these farm communities grow sesame seeds, beans, corn, and hot peppers, and they stew chicken with bananas, prunes, tomatoes, and chicha (corn liquor).
Mexico's neighbor, Belize, is home to the Garifuna, the descendants of the Black Caribs, a Maroon society on the island of St. Vincent. Before the Black Caribs' conquest by the British and their subsequent exile in 1797 from St. Vincent to Trujillo, Belize, and Roatan Island, off the coast of Honduras, their fishing and agricultural techniques produced an array of traditional dishes. Still served by the Garifuna are boiline, a stew combining fruits and vegetables with fish and dumplings; hudut (also known as fufu in Africa and Jamaica), small cakes formed from boiled and mashed plantains, then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed or roasted; tapau, consisting of fish and green bananas in coconut milk; and various chicken dishes and bimekakule, or puddings. The achiote seed is not only the source of red gusewe dye, produced by the Garifuna, but is also ground to make achiote paste for recado, an ingredient still added to stewed pork dishes. Breads include areba, or cassava bread, an important food symbol and indispensable item for the ritual dugu; and bachati, a fried bread consumed at the morning meal. The Caribbean also provides the Garifuna with lobster and conch, which is turned into ceviche and conch fritters. Seafood is steamed and barbecued, and when stewed with okra, pigeon peas, tomatoes, and hot peppers, it takes on the characteristics of gumbo. When seafood is not on the menu, pickled pig's tail and baking powder "biscuits" are the favorites. Coconut bread made with refined wheat flour and yeast is prominent in everyday meals. Beans and rice are also stewed together with the key flavor ingredient, coconut milk. These dishes are part of the standard repertoire at mealtime and consumed during religions celebrations and feasts for the deceased. The Black Caribs gradually migrated from Roatan along the coastal regions of Central America. As of the late 1990s, nearly 350,000 descendants lived in towns and villages in Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala along a narrow coastal strip facing the Caribbean Sea.
Residents along this strip know that there is no shortage of libations, alcoholic and spirit-free, in the Caribbean's collection. One is ginger beer, made with fresh ginger boiled with cinnamon and cloves, then sweetened. A similar recipe produces mauby, which makes use of mauby bark, or tree bark, and is consumed as part of numerous social rituals. In addition, the tamarind fruit, indigenous to East Africa and grown in many areas of the Caribbean, is offered on many celebratory occasions in the form of the tamarind drink. Puerto Rico's coquito, a complex combination of eggs, rum, sweetened condensed milk, coconut, and spices, and Trinidad's peanut punch, which blends peanut butter with vanilla extract, eggs, milk, and rum, are tropical cocktails. For those who claim to drink strictly for medicinal purposes there is ti-punch, Martinique's lime juice and white rum cooler, as well as muzik di zumbi (which translates in Curaçao, Bonaire, and Aruba as "spirit music," a combination of reggae, African rhythms, and South American music), a mango, grenadine, rum, and lime juice concoction served in a sugar-rimmed glass.
These and many other creations accompany Curaçaoan soups containing kadushi cactus stem, crushed and ground into pulp. Curaçao's giambo, an okra soup, is sometimes presented with funchi, or funche, a moist cornmeal bread. In Nevis corn is also turned into mealtime staples along with pigeon peas, yams, sweet potatoes, cassava, bananas, and fruits from citrus trees. Highland garden farming and agriculture in St. Kitts is said to be a throwback to plantation days, when mountain plots were allocated for slave farming. As these plots are still estate owned, many villagers view highland farming with disdain. Private gardens in St. Kitts, however, typically produce pumpkins, potatoes, eggplant, beans, peppers, mangos, bananas, pineapples, coconut, citrus fruit, and breadfruit. Chickens and pigs are commonly kept and turned into such dishes as chicken cooked with pineapple, the sauce thickened with arrowroot, a popular cooking starch known to have medicinal properties and a high-volume export from St. Vincent; and pigs' feet with lime juice and onions. As late as the 1970s, Dieppe Bay, Sandy Point, Old Road Town, and Basseterre were bountiful fishing areas in St. Kitts, as was the Charlestown areas of Nevis.
Seafood dishes, including mussel pie, conch stew, and shark hash, as well as cassava pie, black-eyed peas and rice, and a chicken- and pork-filled baked pastry made from shredded cassava, to name just a few dishes, share the bill of fare during festival cricket in Bermuda. Like Carnival, celebrated in major cities in the Americas, and for which long periods of preparation are the tradition, festival cricket is said to be the time of "eating and drinking everything in Bermuda." High on surrounding hillsides, Rastafarians consume their vegetarian and health food dishes and philosophize about the ostentation and extravagance of the festival while "translat[ing] the festival ambiance into poetry" (Manning, 1998, p. 467).
A poetic culinary metaphor has been used to describe Cuban and Puerto Rican nationalist identity, just as the African dishes gumbo and jambalaya have been used to define many aspects of culture in Louisiana. Ajiaco, or sancocho, is a stew made up of spices, meats, and tubers from Africa and the Caribbean. Prepared in the Dominican Republic and on all the Spanish-speaking islands, sancocho is sometimes prepared with goat's head and salt pork in place of beef and/or chicken with pork. Hot peppers, yams, calalu—a type of spinach used in cooking and a staple West Indian soup throughout the Caribbean—cassava, rum, plantains, and pumpkin are some of the ingredients blended into this savory stew. Throughout Cuba's history the descendants of Africans have maintained distinct culinary traditions by way of soups, stews, and other meat dishes. Sopa de pollo (chicken soup) and picadillo, or beef simmered with orange annatto oil—a substitute for Africa's orange palm oil—are two such dishes still eaten today. During the era of slavery African domestics enriched the diets of planters in Cuba and became indispensable culinary artisans. Many African cooks in bondage in the French colonized islands were reported to be male; however, in 1859 Cuba, black male cooks were famous as well. Although black Cubans were excluded from baking and pastry-making trades in the 1940s, they nevertheless continued their African tradition of bean cakes, meal dumplings, yam fritters, and tea buns, all of which were side dishes, as well as breads and desserts, baked or fried in hot oil. Bunuelos de viento are deep-fried dumplings drizzled with a sweet syrup and served as dessert in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
Tembleque, made with coconut milk, sugar, and arrowroot or cornstarch for thickening, is a popular coconut custard for African Antilleans in the Puerto Rican coastal towns of Maunabo, Patillas, Arroyo, and Guayama in the southeast. Tembleque and flan de pina, made with pineapple juice, eggs, rum, and liqueur or sherry, are both custard desserts seen on holiday and party tables in Puerto Rico, along with lechon asado (roast pig); mofongo, a spicy, garlic-flavored ground plantain side dish; and chicharrones (pork cracklings) and tostones de plantano verde (deep-fried plantains) for appetizers and snacks.
The Bahamas and Barbados are famous for their breadfruit, christophene, and salt fish hors d'oeuvres, as is Jamaica for one of its most famous appetizers/snacks, stamp and go, which is fried codfish fritters. Follow-up courses include mannish water, a traditional Jamaican soup consisting of goat's head and feet, pumpkin and plantain, potatoes, hot peppers, and spinners—which are small dumplings cooked in the hot broth; and fish tea, a seafood stew with a savory broth made from fish heads. Main meals include curried goat and jerk pork and chicken—the jerk process requires marinating meats in spices and hot peppers, then grilling or roasting over a fire made of aromatic leaves and branches. All of these dishes are part of a contemporary repertoire of African creations brought to Jamaican towns and rural areas and to iron-manufacturing communities in the eighteenth century, such as that of John Reeder's Foundry in Morant Bay.
Culinary creations produced in Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Haiti were also expressions of African cultural retentions. Haiti, the premier French-colonized island and the jewel of the Caribbean in the eighteenth century, catapulted French culinary society and economy to unparalleled heights by way of its slave labor in the kitchen. However, slave laborers in Saint Domingue (Haiti) and elsewhere were often underfed, and as with a number of slave societies in the Americas, bondsmen and -women had to cultivate a small piece of land for their own dietary upkeep. Although their rations were meager, African cooks in Saint Domingue prepared sumptuous meals for the planter/owners that remain permanent fixtures in Haiti and France. Giraumon soup and griot are samples of the fare prepared by Haitian cooks. Pumpkin is referred to as giraumon in the former French-colonized islands. In giraumon soup, pumpkin is seasoned with nutmeg, spices, and salt beef. Griot is a popular fried-pork appetizer/main dish. Other favorites include okra rice and fish (or chicken) braised in coconut milk and peanut sauce.
The Cuisine of South America
A popular Peruvian saying states that "El que no tiene de inca, tiene de mandinga" ("whoever does not have Incan ancestry has African ancestry"). The same statement, regarding African ancestry, is true for many of South America's thirteen countries. Black communities emerged in all South American countries as a result of the slave trade, marronage, and immigration. Black populations are said to range from less than 1 percent to as high as 30 percent in Colombia and between 50 and 75 percent in Brazil. Present throughout the societies is the African contribution to cuisine.
One of Africa's culinary legacies in the Santiago, Rancagua, Maule, and Aconcagua regions of Chile is bean soups—and there are numerous versions throughout South America—made with hot peppers, one to three kinds of peas or beans, and tomatoes and onions; sopa de pescado (fish soup), made with a hearty fish stock, shellfish, and vegetables; and a version of humitas (Chilean tamales), which are fresh corn husks stuffed with grated corn and chopped onions. Bori-bori, a seasoned broth with meat and dumplings, became a Paraguayan favorite after the establishment of the settlement of Laurelty, formed in 1820 by fifty African and mulatto followers of Uruguayan patriot José Artigas.
Uruguay's city of Montevideo was the port of entry for Africans in slavery bound for other parts of the region. At the same time, many Brazilian slaves sought freedom through escape to northern and eastern Uruguay and settled into areas such as Salto, Rivera, Artigas, Tacuarembó, and Cerro Largo, regions where the majority of black Uruguayans are found today. A favorite dish is puchero, a heavily seasoned poultry and sausage dish, braised with a variety of vegetables and sometimes referred to as olla podrida, or "rotten pot," although there is nothing rotten about it. Yerba mate, a drink served hot and cold, is made from dried yerba leaves, a shrub of the holly family that grows wild on the upper Paraguay River. Yerba mate is caffeine rich and is sometimes consumed in Uruguay, Paraguay, and other countries instead of coffee and tea.
Uruguay's Montevideo and Argentina's Buenos Aires are part of the Rio de la Plata region that received African bondspeople by way of Brazil. Memoirs of life in early nineteenth-century Buenos Aires never failed to mention black street vendors who monopolized the business, hawking all sorts of produce and dairy products, pastries and meat pies (empanadas ), and a very famous mazamorra (corn chowder). One item sold by African street vendors emerged as a pattern of consumption forced on the African-Argentine community because of its poverty. Africans worked at slaughterhouses, salvaging cast-off (tripe, lung, and other organs) and diseased meat from slaughtered animals. Achuradoras, as they were called, sold this cast-off meat to blacks and poor whites. African Argentines thus gave Argentina one of its most famous dishes—chinchulines, which are braided and grilled intestines, or as southern U.S. blacks call them, chitlins. Such dishes are still served in black Argentine neighborhoods in outlying areas of Barracas, Flores, Floresta, and Boca.
Africans in Peru were frequently seen in the city of Lima and the port of Callao, as both depended largely on black labor for provisions. As in Buenos Aires, Africans worked in Lima's meat market and slaughterhouse, where they processed the meat used aboard navy ships. Male and female, slave and free, were extensively employed in the preparation and sale of preserves and candied fruit, pastries, bread, and hardtack (a saltless, hard biscuit or bread made of flour and water) for sailors. Black female food vendors (vivenderas ) sold food to the masses, including donuts and confections, cheese, milk, whipped cream, various main dishes, and desserts of African origin, such as anticucho bereber, sanguito naju del Congo (a wheat-based dessert), choncholi (tripe brochettes), and seasonally, the drinks chicha de terranova (corn liquor) and mead, all of which are still consumed today. Black male traveling street sellers (pregoneros ) also produced and sold food products, especially sweets.
Today the communities and towns of African descendants include Callejón and the callejones (barrios), where urban popular culture took root and flourished, Yapatera (Piura), Zaña (Chiclayo) in the northern zone, Aucallama and Cañete on the central coast, and Chincha in the southern zone. These descendants still transmit their values, beliefs, and culture through the variety and flavors imparted to soups and other dishes handed down by African-Peruvian women and men who introduced them into Peru's popular cuisine and helped spread African culinary traditions throughout the country.
An extra helping of African culinary traditions would spread throughout Ecuador in the nineteenth century by way of Jamaicans who migrated into the country as laborers to help build the railway. Today, in Carchi and Imbabura at least 40 percent of the population has full or part African blood. African Ecuadorians are also concentrated in the southern province of Loja and have been in Esmeraldas, the preeminent center of black settlement, since the sixteenth century. The lush vegetation in Esmeraldas has helped their cultural and culinary survival, allowing them to grow for northern markets and for their own consumption bananas, grapes, watermelon, plantains and citrus fruits, papaya, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, avocados, anise, beans, manioc (cassava), and other crops. Game such as wild peccary (or tatabro ), paca (or guagua ), agouti (or guatin ), wild pig, wild fowl, squirrels, rabbit, iguanas, and tortoises are all made into stews. Shellfish and seafood are obtained by traditional African hunting and fishing methods, and typical meals include fish and potato soup; the national dish, ceviche de concha, prepared with raw or cooked mussels, onions, aji (hot peppers), and lemon; and fried fish and potato cakes. Dishes with crab and shrimp are considered delicacies. Fruits and cooked root crops are pounded and fried and served with meat or fish; culada, a pounded and fried fish and plantain mixture, is served in the morning. Other dishes include seco de pescado, or fish with coconut; sancocho, a combination of meat, plantains, sweet manioc, and a tuber resembling taro called rascadera; seco, or concha with coconut; locro de yucca, meat with sweet manioc; and green boiled plantains, known as pean piado, which are eaten with most meals in place of bread.
Guarapo, a sugarcane beer; aguardiente, a potent liquor served by the shot with green mango or orange slices as a chaser; and champus, a cold chirimoya fruit drink, are all consumed with and without meals by indigenous and African-descendant populations in Ecuador and Colombia. Colombia has one of the largest black populations in the Spanish-speaking Americas, forming 80 to 90 percent of the population in the Pacific coastal region. The city of Cartagena is still home to the former palenque (Maroon) settlement of el Palenque de San Basilio, a village founded by runaway slaves (palenqueros) in the seventeenth century, who have developed a so-called Creole language yet managed to preserve many aspects of Angolan (Southwest African) culture. African-Colombian populations can also be found in the areas of Cauca, Valle, Bolívar, Caldas and Chocó. Sophisticated farming systems of forest farming communities, such as the Afro-Baudoseno, grow rice, corn, plantains, and fruit trees on one of the riverbanks while managing pigs on the other. One of their favorite foods is leafcup. Known as arboloco in Colombia, it is a sweet root eaten raw after exposure in the sun for several days. Easy to digest, it is used in the diets of invalids. Other favorites include the meat soup sancocho, vegetable tamales, corn empanadas, chuzos (kebabs), fried fish, chorizos (sausages), arepas de chocolo (sweet corn cakes), rice and coconut dishes, and patacones (sliced plantains).
Preparations such as quineo k'asurata, a type of banana, peeled while green, then sun-dried for a few days before eaten boiled; beef, rice, and avocado dishes; and salt fish from Lake Titicaca are favorite meal items of the Yungas populations in Bolivia. The largest concentrations of African Bolivians are in the city of La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, and in the nearby agricultural provinces of Nor and Sud Yungas, on the eastern slopes of the Andes mountain range. The village of Mururata is home to a black population, as is the smaller village of Tocana, in La Paz's Nor Yungas Province. Tocanans cultivate bananas and citrus fruits, coffee beans, and coca, and speak a vocabulary that is a mix of African words, Aymara (the language of the mountain indigenous people), and Spanish. The location of the Yungas, with its semitropical valleys, has made the region an oasis of crop production. The greatest concentration of crops is grown in the Yungas provinces of La Paz and Cochabamba. Bolivians produce a wide range of vegetables, fruits, and other food crops, mostly for local consumption. Principal vegetable crops include kidney beans, green beans, chickpeas, green peas, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and chili peppers. One of the oldest cultivated Andean plants, arracacha (white carrot), known as lakachu in Aymara, is eaten boiled or as an ingredient in soups and stews; it is also roasted and fried in slices, and used as a puree.
Hervido (meat stew), as it is called in Venezuela, is a nourishing meat and vegetable dish enjoyed in many communities and during many religious and secular festivals, such as Los Tambores de Barlovento (Drums of Barlovento), celebrated at the beginning of the rainy season in March near Corpus Christi, in Barlovento, Miranda state. This is the region comprising the towns of Curiepe, Higuerote, Caucagua, Tacarigua, and others with large black populations. The Drums of Barlovento is an African-Caribbean tradition in which drums are the main theme complemented by various other wooden instruments of African origin. As in Ecuador, in addition to African importation for slave labor in agriculture, Venezuela imported blacks from the Caribbean (Trinidad, Aruba, Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas) to work the gold mines of El Callao in the state of Bolívar, in the south of the country, and by 1810 the majority of Venezuelans were of African blood. The descendants of Antillean immigrants still eat their traditional versions of calalu with salted codfish; tarquery, a meat and curry recipe from India that is very popular in Trinidad; and gateau, dumplings and bolos. They drink yinya bie and mabi, drinks that originated in Trinidad. African cultural survival can also be seen in Aripao, a community formed by descendants of runaway slaves living on the east bank of Lower Caura River in the northwestern region of Bolívar State. As in Bolivia, arracacha is consumed; the leaves are used in the same way as celery in raw or cooked salads. Venezuelans refer to it as "Creole celery."
"Creolization" was evident in the way African linguistic structure and expression influenced the Portuguese language in Brazil, the largest country in South America. However, every segment and enclave of Brazilian society, including its quilombos (Maroon communities), were influenced by, or had as its base, African cuisine and culture. "Negroes of the Palm Forests," or Palmares, was one of the most famous quilombos. Its residents were settled cultivators, producing maize, fruits, and all sorts of cereal and vegetables crops, which they stored in granaries against harsh weather and attack. They also supplemented their food supply with domesticated animals, fishing, and hunting. But those same customs and practices of African culinary culture that fed and gave security and continuity to the inhabitants of the ten major quilombos in Brazil permeated Brazilian cuisine in general. Feijoada, a rich combination of beans, blood sausages, and different cuts of pork or beef; caruru, prepared with leafy greens and smoked fish and dried shrimp, hot peppers, okra, and peanuts; acaraje, a bean flour and dried shrimp fritter; as well as coconut sauces and soups to complement a variety of seafood delicacies are only a few of the African dishes brought to Brazil.
The Cuisine of the Guianas
In Brazil and throughout African America, as Richard Price points out, "[C]ooking and eating were core areas of cultural resistance and persistence, as well as foci of ongoing creativity and dynamism" (1991, p. 107). Much culinary and cultural resistance can still be observed in Suriname, formerly colonized by Holland; French Guiana, an "Overseas Department" of France, and thus considered an integral part of the French nation; and Guyana, formerly colonized by the British. All three countries sit side by side in the northeast corner of South America, bordering northern Brazil. People of African descent residing in Guyana prepare a multitude of fish dishes from bounty available all along the seacoast, such as double-belly basham, eyewater, red snapper, kingfish, patwa rock fish, and many others; as well as from rivers and canals providing shrimp, crab, clam, and mussels. Rice, yams, various tubers, mangos, coconuts, the oil palm, and other fruits are used in such dishes as pumpkin stewed with rice. All kinds of vegetables are sautéed and stewed, or baked with tomatoes, onions, and cinnamon, and remain a part of the vast variety of West African foods and spices imported into Guyana along with the traditions of meat and fish stews and fufu. "Bush meats," pork, chicken, mutton, beef, and goat are casseroled, roasted, barbecued, fried, and ground to produce a number of savory dishes, including garlic pork and beef baked with leafy greens and carrots, and various meat loaves.
Wedged between Guyana and Guiana is Suriname, the location of what are believed to be the best preserved African cultural patterns in the Western Hemisphere. Suriname is home to the descendants of the Saramaka (Saramacca, or Saramaccaners), who live along the banks of the Suriname River, and the Djuka Maroons (they prefer the term Aucans or Aucanners), communities formed in the early eighteenth century. Referring to themselves as "river" and "bush" people—there are other "bush" groups, such as the Matuari (or Matawai), Paramacca, and Boni—these Maroon descendants can be found in villages from a few miles south of the Atlantic Ocean down to the Brazilian border.
The ancestors of the Saramaka were agricultural specialists who already had a unique horticultural calendar set up by the mid-eighteenth century. Early Saramakans cultivated the same enormous array of crops their descendants produce today. One such crop is rice. Known as alesi, the seventy cultivated varieties comprise much of their current diet, although wild rice is grown today only for use in rituals to honor their eighteenth-century ancestors. Rice processing is carried out using African utensils and methods and the process is nearly identical to that of South Carolina plantation blacks during slavery. A mere sample of the game meat, fish, and birds, preserved primarily by smoking and salting, includes akusuwe, a kind of rabbit; mbata, a small deer; malole, which is armadillo; and awali, or opossum, eaten only when nothing else is available to accompany rice. Rounding out their larder is the tree porcupine, known as adjindja, in addition to logoso (turtle), akomu (eel), peenya (piranha), and nyumaa, or pataka, spoken of as "the best fish in the country." Anamu (bush hen), maai (bush turkey), gbanini (eagle), patupatu (wild duck), soosoo (large parakeet), and pumba (blue and red parrot) are also consumed in abundance. Large quantities of meat and fish are shared through family networks, lessening the need for preservation. Preparation of foods includes roasting, frying, boiling, or browning meats first in one or more of five varieties of palm oil, then simmering with vegetables and/or root crops and one or more of ten cultivated varieties of hot peppers. Fifteen varieties of okra are cultivated, along with mboa and bokolele (mboa is amaranth, but both are called wild spinach). Tonka (beans), seven varieties of yams, tania, cashews and peanuts, and wild limes, watermelon, lemons, oranges, and pineapples, and other fruits of African origin are also grown.
From the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, Africans, as slaves, contributed their labor skills, religion, music, and culinary expertise to create societies and cultures in every country in the Americas. The reinvention of culinary traditions and social patterns based on African heritage demonstrated strong cultural persistence and resistance within plantation, and especially Maroon, communities, which were established wherever slavery existed.
Similarities in African culinary heritage, shared throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, have left enduring legacies. Those legacies are filled with cooking and cuisine strongly reminiscent of, or identical to, those of their African forebears and therefore continue to transmit the values and enrich the culinary experiences of not only Africans in the Americas but most other cultures in the Americas as well. Although these nations have adopted African culinary traditions as their own, in most cases there is little or no recognition of their roots. Too often seen as backward and lacking in value, the African contribution is regularly subjected to racism and societal repression. For Africans and their descendants in the Americas, food and its preparation are deeply infused with social and cultural meaning rooted in African traditions and have always held an intrinsic role in creating, preserving, and transmitting expressions of ethnic cohesion and continuity. It is hoped that there will be an eventual appreciation of African culinary heritage not just in Latin America and the Caribbean but throughout the world.
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diane m. spivey (2005)