TIME magazine recently ran an article on the best cookbooks of the last 25 years. I’m sure these are great books of cooking, but at the not the top of my list for living in West Africa.
Why thank you for asking! I’m happy to share my personal favorites.
- Wild Boar on the Kitchen Floor
This one will make you feel better about wherever you live and whatever foods you can’t get. Most of the recipes use ingredients you can find at your local buutik, nearest market and fruit and veggie stand.
The section on Tropical Tips is fantastic. Need a recipe for homemade roach killer using sweetened condensed milk and boric acid? How about some tips on keeping things cold during power cuts or getting rid of ‘Living Washrag Syndrome’? It’s all there!
- More with Less
A classic. My mom (and every other toubab mom in West Africa) had this one on the shelf, right next to the bright orange Make Your Own Groceries.
More with Less was originally published in 1976 (a great year for cuisine), and I’m pretty sure every copy I’ve ever seen looked older than it should. But that’s what you get from years of use and spilled pancake batter.
It’s THE place to find recipes for feeding a football team with beans, rice and a bit of elbow grease. Those Mennonites know how to cook – and without wasting any resources.
- Extending the Table
I also have a much-loved copy of Extending the Table, published by the same group.
“We did not glean recipes from a refined list of the world’s best dishes.”
Well that’s a kicker of an intro. But it’s true. The recipes are taken from everyday people’s tables from around the globe. Usually delicious, always filling!
Is that a glossy red cover sticking out from a pile of dusty garage sale books? There – right between the Louis Lamour book and the pastel Janet Oke one…
If you find one of these rare treasures, buy it.
- 699 Ways to Serve a Missionary
A compilation of recipes developed and used by toubabs in Senegal over the years. It. is. awesome.
p1: Recipe for attaya specifies to use 1 part Sadam brand tea leaves and 3 parts Bobmal brand. No room for rookie mistakes here.
p10: ‘Cranberry’ nut bread calls for 2 cups chopped bissap as ‘cranberries’
p35: Candy recipe calls for ‘Casamance honey’
p57-72: The dessert section is heavy on papaya, mango, corossol and cashew apple options. This includes ‘Old fashioned mango crisp’. You know. Like Grandma used to make.
p75: The recipe for Le Diambar peppercorn steak sauce from a restaurant in Thiès notes that you should use ‘Gloria’, not sweetened condensed milk.
p81: Recipe for African enchiladas = fatayas + taco seasoning + tomato paste. (Recipe for taco seasoning on p.141)
p94: The recipe for Kedougou Chicken is followed on the next page by a recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. My worlds are colliding.
p98: ‘Salmon Fish’ recipe. Apparently faux salmon is made by painting a ketchup mixture over lotte fillets. Brilliant.
p128: Recipe for Pop Tarts calls for Chocoleca filling. Every Third Culture Kid’s dream.
Bon appétit !