15 Weird African Food

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African cuisine is incredibly diverse, featuring a wide range of flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques. While some dishes are considered weird African Food because they are unique to outsiders, they are an integral part of the culinary traditions of various African cultures. In this article, we will explore some of the weirdest African foods, highlighting their distinct characteristics and cultural significance.

Some Weird African Food

  • The Mopane Worm of Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana:  The Mopane Worm, a type of caterpillar belonging to the emperor moth family, can be found throughout various countries in southern Africa, including Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. In Zambia, where I reside as a member of the Bemba tribe, they are commonly known as “Ifinkubala” and are frequently consumed as a traditional dish. Mopane worms can be enjoyed either as a snack or as a substantial meal.The harvesting of Mopane worms occurs twice a year, with the first harvest taking place during the early months of the rainy season and the second harvest occurring at the end of the rains. Once harvested, the caterpillars are carefully squeezed to remove their gut contents, followed by a process of parboiling and drying before they are sold in the market.
Mopane worms
Mopane worms
  • If the idea of Mopane worms makes you squeamish, then you might not be too thrilled about our next weird African food. Allow me to introduce Chitoum, a popular mid-day snack predominantly enjoyed in West Africa. This  involves a small, dark beetle that is collected, emptied of its entrails, and fried to create a dry and crispy delicacy. Interestingly, some claim that Chitoum offers a more enjoyable flavor compared to locusts and grasshoppers, which happen to be the next items on our list. However, as taste preferences vary from person to person, it ultimately comes down to individual preference!
Chitoum- photo credit Shutterstock
  • Fufu (West Africa): Fufu is a staple food in many West African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Although this weird African food isn’t considered weird in West Africa, it might come off as strange to foreigners. It is made by pounding boiled starchy vegetables like cassava, plantains, or yams until they form a smooth, dough-like consistency. Fufu is usually eaten with various soups or stews and is consumed by tearing off small pieces and dipping them into the accompanying sauce.
African Food Network: Fufu weird African food
  • Fried Termites (Southern Africa): Termites is another weird African food in Southern Africa, particularly in countries like Botswana and Zimbabwe. These insects are collected during the rainy season, dried, and then fried or cooked in various ways. Despite their appearance, fried termites are a good source of protein and are often enjoyed as a crunchy delicacy.
Fried Termites
Fried Termites

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  • Palm Wine (West Africa): Palm wine is a traditional alcoholic beverage that is widely consumed in West African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon. It is made by tapping the sap from palm trees and allowing it to ferment naturally. The resulting drink has a sweet and slightly tangy flavor, similar to a light wine or beer. Palm wine is often enjoyed fresh, but it can also be distilled to make a stronger spirit.
Weird African Food- Palm wine
Palm Wine
  • Pounded Bush Mango Seed (Central Africa): In Central Africa, the seeds of the bush mango tree are pounded into a fine powder and used as a base for soups and sauces. The seeds are extremely hard and require substantial effort to crack open. Once pulverized, they create a thickening agent that adds a unique flavor and texture to dishes.
Weird African Food:Pounded Mango Seed
Pounded Mango Seed

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  • Amasi (Southern Africa): Amasi, also known as fermented milk, is a traditional African dairy product commonly consumed in countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is made by allowing raw cow’s milk to ferment naturally, resulting in a thick, tangy, and slightly sour milk product. Amasi is often consumed on its own or used as an ingredient in various dishes.

    Amasi- Picture Credit Daily Sun
  • Kamba (East Africa): Kamba is a traditional food from Kenya, particularly among the Kamba ethnic group. It consists of red ants that are harvested and dried before being cooked into a stew. The ants provide a unique sour flavor and are often paired with other ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, and spices.
  • Dongo-Dongo (Central Africa): Dongo-Dongo is a traditional dish from Cameroon that consists of roasted or grilled grasshoppers. The grasshoppers are typically marinated in a mixture of spices and then cooked until crispy. They are often served as a snack or as part of a larger meal.
Dongo in okra meal
Dongo in okra meal

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  • Insects in Chocolate (Various regions): This weird African Food is popular In several African countries, including Ghana and Uganda, insects are incorporated into chocolate products. Grasshoppers, crickets, and termites are commonly used and are roasted before being mixed into the chocolate. The resulting chocolate bars offer a unique combination of sweet and savory flavors.
Weird African Food
Insect in Chocolate
  • Ostrich Egg (Southern Africa): Ostrich eggs are a common but weird African food item in Southern Africa, particularly among indigenous tribes. These eggs are significantly larger than chicken eggs and can weigh up to 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds). They are often used in cooking, either by scrambling or boiling them, and are shared as communal meals due to their size.
Orstrich egg
Orstrich egg
  • Stink Bugs(South Africa): Stink Bugs, found in South Africa, may not sound appealing, but they are actually a nutritious edible option. Despite their name, the “stink” is not detectable in their taste. Prior to cooking, the bugs are decapitated and squeezed to eliminate the gland responsible for the odor. After emptying the gland, South Africans typically boil the bugs and then sun-dry them, turning them into snacks. Surprisingly, these small creatures are rich in Vitamin B, making them a beneficial food choice. Some individuals describe their flavor as a blend of cinnamon and iodine, but I’ll leave the judgment to you.
Stink bug
Stink bug
  • Uganda: This next weird African food is actually very popular in Africa. In Uganda, the locals refer to these agile creatures as “Nsenene,” and they hold a special place in traditional cuisine. Typically, Nsenene grasshoppers are roasted or fried after being carefully seasoned. If you’re curious about tasting them, capturing these insects usually involves the use of a net or a homemade contraption consisting of a bucket and a tin. They make their prominent appearance during the months of April, May, and November.To prepare this African delicacy, it is customary to pluck off the wings and legs while the grasshoppers are still alive, just before adding them to a frying pan. As the grasshoppers cook, they release their natural oils, creating a distinct flavor. Seasoning them with salt, pepper, and spices of your choice further enhances their taste. (If the process of removing their appendages while they are alive seems cruel, an alternative method is to freeze them for 40 minutes beforehand or remove their heads, which simultaneously eliminates their guts.)

    Nsesene Weird African Food
  • The Ackee plant: Holds a significant place in West African cuisine as a prized delicacy. Surprisingly, this plant is not just any ordinary plant but actually bears fruit. However, it is crucial to note that when consumed prematurely, the fruit is toxic and can lead to severe consequences such as vomiting, hypoglycemia, permanent neurological damage, and even death. Therefore, it is essential to allow the Ackee fruit to fully mature, which typically takes around 8 weeks.Once the fruit reaches its ripe stage, it naturally splits open, revealing three or four large black seeds. At this point, the Ackee fruit is considered safe and ready for consumption. Not only is it a delicacy, but it is also highly nutritious. Ackee fruit is rich in essential nutrients such as vitamin A, zinc, essential fatty acids, and protein, making it a valuable addition to the diet. However, it is crucial to handle and prepare the Ackee fruit with caution and ensure it is fully ripe before enjoying its flavors and benefits.
  • The Maasai, an ethnic group residing in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, are known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. During important occasions such as a girl’s wedding, a baby’s birth, and a child’s circumcision, they partake in the consumption of cow blood. Additionally, in order to aid in the recovery from hangovers, the elderly are offered cow blood if they are intoxicated.The traditional diet of the Maasai people in Kenya and Tanzania primarily relies on their livestock. Although meat consumption is infrequent, they regularly consume milk and blood, obtained by piercing the loose flesh on a cow’s neck with an arrow.

    Blood meal
    Blood Meal-Picture Credit:Shuttershock

While these African foods may be considered strange or unusual to some, they represent the incredible diversity and cultural richness of the continent’s culinary heritage. Exploring and embracing these unique dishes can offer a fascinating glimpse into the traditions and flavors that define various African cuisines.

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