- Fermented Millet Porridge
This is an almost universal breakfast across the continent, and it has been recorded by visitors as far back as the middle ages. Since the introduction of corn, we can find corn versions in Nigeria (pap, smooth like custard) or in Ghana (Koko, a little course and filled with warming spices like cloves and ginger). In East Africa is it called Uji, Southern Africa like Botswana it is called ting. I believe this is one of the oldest African foods we can still find today. Millet is our bread, and some tribes liken it to God lol. In Southern Africa, you could have a slice of bread with it. In West Africa, some fried savoury beanballs called Akara, or sweeter beignets called puff puff. The sweet and savoury sounds odd but let me assure you it is heaven filled.
- Cornmeal Porridge
My kids are half Zimbabwean and growing up in Botswana, Southern Africa, means that I was accustomed to having cornmeal porridge for breakfast. Sugar and a topping of milk are pretty standard to add. A dollop of butter made it particularly delicious. But the Zimbabwean way to have it tops the charts; they add peanut butter. This not only makes it more interesting, but it becomes highly nourishing as well.
- Ordinary Cereal Like Oats and Cornflakes
Many home cooks are grateful. I remember Kellogs frosties as a kid growing up in Botswana. Sheesh, Cerelac is baby food, but I will eat it any day. What are my kids eating? They eat a lot of Cheerios, CocoPops and Golden Morn, a corn-based cereal.
I feel very proud every time my kids eat toast and scrambled eggs. I have very young ones who tend to live on air and butter rice, so I have proud moments when I see some nutrition appreciated. Bread has become very important. Even the poorest of the poor can afford a loaf. In Botswana where I grew up, standard sliced salted bread was everywhere. I now live in Nigeria, and we have this sweet, air-filled brioche-like bread called Agege bread, closely linked to Jamaican bread.
- The typical West African style
This is to eat what you would consider lunch for breakfast. So you get a lot of men eating heavy meals ahead of a long day at work. Meals like banku and pepper with fish. I see a lot of bread and beans being eaten here in Lagos, Nigeria. What is very popular, and has been taken up in restaurant culture here is yam and egg sauce. The Nigerian version looks like scrambled eggs with a bit of onion, tomato, and scotch bonnet chilli. Sometimes smoked fish is added.
The Ghanaian version has more of the tomato sauce. I have eaten breakfast with Nigerians out of Nigeria, and yam with egg sauce is still the go-to. I have even seen sugar being added to the yam as it boils, which I found quite interesting. This probably acted as a flavour enhancer for the yam, which can be bitter at times, while some varieties have a natural sweetness.
Give It a Try
There is so much more I could add here and no doubt in a couple of years I will have more to say and amendments to make. I hope you enjoyed a little bit about everyday life and tradition in this post. One tip I would give you is to start with whatever is easiest, yam and egg sauce or cornmeal porridge.
My Burnt Orange