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Culinary culture in Africa: Its global influence

CGTN | Updated: 2018-08-29 10:17
The coffee tree in a plantation. [Photo/VCG]

Historical records suggest that coffee had already been brought to the Middle East prior to the 15th century, from which it traveled to the shores of Europe and later, America. But the lack of credible evidence makes it hard to delineate the initial transmission route.

When historical facts are short in supply stories are aplenty. According to one such story, Sudanese slaves accidentally brought the fruit out of Africa.

Hundreds of years later, coffee has become one of the world's leading "must-have" commodities.

When the Europeans first witnessed the West Africans chewing kola nuts in the 16th century, the plant had already been growing in the region for hundreds of years. Still, more than three centuries later, the American pharmacist John Pemberton thought about adding it to his invention list (as well as named the product partially after it), later known as Coca-Cola.

Containing caffeine, kola nut was chewed as a stimulus as coffee beans by the local West Africans. [Photo/CGTN]

Containing caffeine, kola nut was chewed as a stimulus as coffee beans by the local West Africans. Long before the European traders realized that the plant might be of medical use and started shipping the fruits back home.

According to Geography Professor Judith Carney of University California Los Angeles, slaves used the nuts to freshen the fetid water available on the ships during their voyage across the Atlantic to America, which "undoubtedly contributed to the early presence of the kola nut in New World plantation societies".

In China, the world's largest watermelon producer, the fruit is called "Xi Gua" in mandarin, or "west melon", implying its foreign origin.

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