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Appetite for Africa

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It is hard to imagine two culinary traditions so different and yet so intimately related through history as the cuisines of the United States and West Africa. Yet African cuisine remains a total mystery to most of the American public. Now that Americans have learned from Thai, Indian, and Mexican cuisines how to tolerate searing hot chilies, the time is perhaps ripe to discover the varieties of West African cooking, which are just as regional as Asian, European, and Latin American cuisines. We will learn how, over the centuries, Africans have been able to combine native ingredients with imports from Asia and America to develop a highly distinctive, rich, and all too often overlooked culinary tradition.

Our speaker, Robert Launay, PhD, is Professor of Anthropology and a member of the Program of African Studies at Northwestern University. He and his wife lived for several years in Ivory Coast living and eating with an African family without electricity, running water, or cooking gas. He has published two books and many articles about West Africa. He has also published descriptions of food in European travel literature. His latest book is an anthology of early anthropological writing, with as many descriptions of food, eating, and drinking as he could sneak past his publisher.

Seating is limited for this special event, so we suggest you reserve early to guarantee your seat!

Cost of the morning lecture is $5 for members of the public, $3 for students, and no charge for CHC members. To reserve for the lecture, please call Dawn McGlone at 630-620-1457 or e-mail

The program will be followed by an optional lunch, paired with wines, for $27.00 (all inclusive.) The luncheon cost is separate from the lecture. Paid reservations are required for the luncheon. The menu includes wonderful West African savory dishes prepared by Washburne students and graduates: akara (bean cake); jollof rice (thiebou jen), a savory, spicy, rice dish; foofoo (pounded yams served with soup); goat and groundnut stew (contains peanuts); fish with attieki (fermented manioc); and mafe hakoo (beef stewed with cassava or potato leaves)

You may make reservationss for the luncheon by mailing a check to Culinary Historians of Chicago, 280 Laurel Avenue, Highland Park, IL 60035-2620, by credit card at Brown Paper Tickets, or by phone at 1-800-838-3006. For more information about this event, please call 847-432-8255 or email

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