Top > African Study Monographs > ASM Supplementary Issue Back Number > No.13 (1990)
pp. 1-174

Cookbook of the Songola: An Anthropological Study on the Technology of Food Preparation among a Bantu-Speaking People of the Zaïre Forest

Takako ANKEI
Faculty of Education, Yamaguchi University

   What do African women do to prepare their daily diet in rural environment? This article is an attempt to answer this question, based on an eight months' field survey among the Songola, a Bantu people living in the tropical rain forest of the Republic of Zaïre.
   In order to shed light on their system of cooking as a whole, the author established cumulative inventories of 1) 377 materials having different Songola names, 2) 49 Songola verbs for the techniques of preparation, 3) 40 cooking tools, and 4) a total of 355 recipes of which 75 were for intermediate products having their Songola names. Materials are identified, labeled with Songola, Zairean Swahili, and Latin names, and described from the statements of the Songola and the observations by the author. The boundaries for the elements of each set of inventories are determined by "emic" approach, or depending upon the concepts of the Songola themselves. Each verb for cooking, accompanied by an operational definition, is illustrated by sample sentences and sketches of the author. Recipes, represented by a combination of the former three elements, are described by text and flow charts with which readers will easily understand the systematic relationship between them.
   A single material cassava had recipes of the greatest diversity: divided into three by the Songola ("sweet" tubers, "bitter" tubers, and leaves), it gave birth to a total of 30 different recipes and intermediate products for other recipes, and 35 different dishes. Thus, the result was an overwhelming variety of cooked food available among the Songola: they know as many as 2099 different dishes. Seeing that salt and a small amount of sugar are the only materials provided from outside of their territory, we can have an image of the original affluence of food and diet in African tropical rain forests.

Key Words: Cooking; Folk classification; Recipes; Songola; Zaïre.

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