This attractive book covers the food of Gabon, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Congo, Ethiopia, and some of their neighbors. The work of a French-educated Gabonese chef and veteran food photographer, it also features profiles of leading cultural figures from throughout the region and includes their perspectives on traditional foods and home cooking.
An initial pantry section helps differentiate regional preferences in ingredients, some dictated by climate and others by historical influences, and throughout the book there are notes on the diversity of names for commonly used foods.
The authors make the point that for much of the area about which they write, political borders were imposed by colonial powers and don't necessarily represent cultural regions. That said, we would have been pleased to see more in the way of notes identifying particular dishes with particular places or ethnic groups.
Still, this is an uncommon resource, one prepared with both care and enthusiasm, and at its frequent best it reveals connections and contrasts in part of the world otherwise poorly served by English-language cookbooks.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.