This essay encompasses the pasta that is heavily eaten in the continent of Africa. Vermicelli noodles used in African dishes are extremely thin and lightweight compared to the noodles used in spaghetti. Vermicelli’s significance in the African community of the Mande countries  and North Africa are always pronounced because other than that Africans are not familiar to pasta dishes. This essay will go in depth of the culture of these African countries in significance to cuisine and how vermicelli became socially impacted. I will also include anthropological theories such as interviewing and observing. I also found recipes on different African vermicelli and included my mom’s in order to exhibit its similarities even if they may be done differently.  

In the majority of Africa, food is a way to bring people together. It creates friendships, relationships, and can be a tool used to end a quarrel. The Mande countries in West Africa include Mali, Ivory Coast, and Guinea. These countries speak the same language: Mandingo in different dialects, but with these dialects they are still able to understand each other.  They also share the same traditions and they are known for their own specific way of making vermicelli. The relationships between the Mande country is sisterly. They may tease one another on certain things like their flag colors or the way they say different verbs but they come in unison when it comes to how good their food is. The people of these countries take so much pride in their food because for hundreds of years and still today in Africa, the woman of a household’s cooking determined its value. The rating of a household’s cuisine determines if that household has a ‘good’ woman and wise man.  This culture of food is extremely embedded in African tradition and that is the reason for so much importance to be on the dishes.

I researched two different Vermicelli recipes from West Africa in order to specifically state its reason for certain differences and usually these reasons were due to environmental changes, lack of resources, or simply because it’s something the family always did when cooking the dish. Ghanian food is known for their jollof rice so it’s something that’s included in many of the dishes. For this reason most of the vermicelli in Ghana is cooked with jollof rice and included in the main ingredients for this dish. 

Ghanian Recipe


400g Vermicelli noodles or rice noodles

5 cups jollof base sauce

1 cup mixed vegetable

1 Maggi cube

2 bay leafs

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp thyme  

salt to taste 


Preparation time: 5 mins Cooking time: 30 mins


  1. Fill a kettle with water and bring to the boil
  2. Place noodles in a large bowl and fill to the brim with water. Use a spatula to ensure all of the noodles are immersed in the water
  3. Place a large pan on medium heat and add in the jollof base sauce
  4. After one minute remove the noodles which should of softened but not be soft from the bowl of water and place in the with the jollof sauce
  5. Add in the Maggi, curry powder, salt, bay leaf and thyme
  6. Stir to ensure that the noodles are covered in sauce and seasoning
  7. Wrap lid in foil and place on low heat for 15 minutes
  8. After 15 minutes add in the mixed vegetables and stir gently
  9. After a further 15 minutes remove from heat and check for consistency
  10. If soft, leave to rest with the lid off
  11. If not soft enough, take off heat but keep the lid on for a further 10 minutes

The vermicelli dish is really popular in Senegal and it can be found in every Senegealese restaurant. Meat is in a significant amount of African dishes because of the major influence of Islam. In an article on the meat consumption in an African country, the author found that Islam influences meat products consumption by recognizing where the animal came from and how it was killed for consuming. In order for a Muslim to eat meat it has to be cut in a halal way, which means the animal should be cut by his throat first in order for the animal to not die in pain. The meat in the vermicelli dish from Senegal is really important because of the diet of meat that is present there. Meat is eaten with every dish that’s cooked in Senegal and most African countries. In the article on the Senegalese vermicelli, the author notes that the origin of this dish in Senegal is to enjoy with family. 


Senegalese Recipe


4 chicken legs

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

4 large onions, diced

1 maggi cube

2 garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons ground red pepper 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon flour

2 cups water

2 eight ounce packages broken vermicelli rice noodles

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups water



Heat a large pan with 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat and saute the vermicelli lightly until it turns pale golden brown. Add 2 cups water, boil, cover and cook 3 minutes. Once done, remove the vermicelli and set aside. In the same pan heat oil then add chicken, mix the flour into cold water and add all ingredients to chicken. Cover and simmer 25 minutes until sauce is thick. Serve chicken over vermicelli.

I then interviewed my mom on her way of making the vermicelli that I absolutely love but only eat when there’s a baby shower or wedding. Vermicelli is easy dish that my family makes a lot of for celebratory events that introduce new beginnings. This is a tradition that I have observed in the Mande countries. One woman would get appointed to make the vermicelli on the biggest pot that can serve an entire audience. The woman chosen to make the vermicelli is honored and respected because it’s the most important dish during these events. 


My mom’s Vermicelli recipe


3 packs of vermicelli noodles


2 Pots

sazon seasoning

Meat (as much as you like)



Red and green peppers



Put water in the pot and heat it on the stove until it boils. Put vermicelli noodles in pot and leave it for about 35 minutes. While the noodles are on the stove, cut up the peppers, tomatoes, and onions and put it in the second pot with oil. Put fire under it so it can fry. After the sauce has become thicker, season the meat and put it in the second pot. Mix it in with the sauce and let it cook. After the meat cooks in your desired way , put the fire low. The vermicelli should be done by now so drain it and put it in the second pot. Close the pot for 35 minutes and constantly check and stir it. The meal should be done after 35 minutes.


Works cited 

Seleshe ,Semeneh. “Meat consumption in Ethiopia.” NCBI.

Senegalese Chicken Vermicelli Recipe. Theafricangourmet.

Flavour of the Diaspora. “Vermicelli Noodles- Jollof Style!”

A Love Letter

You are the heart of the home

The best arome

In you, I find comfort.

In you, I find good slumber

You bring everyone together in unity 

Like the land of opportunity

Your colors and shapes bring me joy

And I don’t mean to annoy 

But I can have you anyday

In every way


I may indulge in others

But do go into wonders

Because you will always be the one

Even if the day has just begun 

God bless your versatility 

Because I am never bored with you

And your looks are my favorite hue 


Remember your power to keep me together

Because there will not be another

You complete me in every way

Even on Taco Tuesday


Stay tasty 

And I’ll see you again, crazy.


My poem is an imitation of “Summons of the Soul” From Chu Ci, by Qu Yuan. I chose this poem because it was the most compelling in discussing food. In this poem, the poet discusses the food and almost praises its presence and look. The use of imagery is exemplified through the very detailed description of each food that the poet writes about. I learned that this poet enjoys being particular and detailed in his/her delivery in order to be clear on what is to be said. In the poem, the poet talks about the food like it’s the greatest thing ever and I imitated that by creating a love poem to Noodles. I also learned that the poet’s culture may consist of feasts at home. The diet in this culture is very clear from the different animals that are cooked and included in the feast. From writing this piece, I realized that my culture isn’t really big on noodles. While making this love poem, I was thinking about my favorite West African dish in order to write it. The love and obsession that I claim for the noodles was a projection of my love for a completely different dish which allowed me to get creative.


My Mother’s Table

I was born and raised in Manhattan, New York City. I like to introduce that because despite this, I was raised under great influence of West African traditions. I am well aware and knowledgeable of my native tongue and traditions such as food and holidays. I am conducting a study to investigate the use of the kitchen table. I am viewing the kitchen table as a cultural artifact because from that point, I can take note of everything one does using the kitchen table. Every use of the kitchen table has a reason behind it that may be symbolic or of greater significance. This is especially important to me because I didn’t notice certain things about the kitchen table in my own home or why certain things were the way they are simply because I have become so accustomed to seeing it that way. I interviewed my mom because she cooks native food every day and she has a specific way about making the meal and placing it on the table. My mom is from the Ivory Coast, a country in West Africa, and therefore my mom’s kitchen table traditions are those passed on from her mother, who learned it from her mother and so on. My mom and the rest of my family are all Muslim, as well, so a mixture of culture and religion all plays into the way she uses her kitchen table. Studying and learning about why my mom uses the kitchen table the way she does before studying someone else’s kitchen table is important to me because it teaches me about my culture and tradition and the reason my mom values her practices in the kitchen so much that she does it the same exact way her mom did it. 

The anthropological methods that I chose were both participant observation and interview. I let my mom know that I would be watching and taking note of how she uses her kitchen table and explained the study to her. She was eager to be a part of my assignment, so she decided to exaggerate everything she normally does to ensure I don’t miss anything. Participant observation is really important in a study like this because I have to study the actions of my mom meticulously and record them. I also decided to interview her, only for about two questions, as she was preparing dinner when I wanted to know why she did certain things such as what to set on the table and how to start each meal. It was 5pm on Saturday when I conducted this study. I started off by observing the table and realizing that my mom always places a box of dates in the center of the table before starting food preparation. Dates are sweet fruits that come from date palm trees. I always knew there were sometimes dates on the table but I never realized that my mom places it before she starts cooking and removes it before she puts food on the table.

Q: Why do you place dates on the table before cooking? Why dates?

A: Dates are really important in the Islam world. They are extremely beneficial to one’s health and Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said that they came from Paradise. He said a home without dates is a house in hunger. It’s important for Muslims to follow what Muhammed (SAW) did in order to live the right way.

This was really interesting to me because it never occured to me that the reason my mom put dates on the table was a religious reason. I became very curious about dates and did some of my own research on it at the moment and found numerous health benefits and i’m glad to share this with people who don’t know this. 

My mom then started her cooking. Today she was making okra stew over rice. She cut up the meat and the spices and threw everything in the big pot she set over the hot stove. I noticed that before my mom cut anything or even when she opened the pot up to stir the food, she would always say “Bismillah.” The word “Bisimillah” is Arabic for “In the name of God.” I say this before starting an exam or before I start eating, so I was very comfortable with hearing my mom say it before she started cooking. Saying “Bisimillah” is blessing whatever you’re bound to start. My mom is blessing our food and making it the right way, Islamically, just by saying “Bisimillah” before making anything. After making the food my mom puts it in very large plates because that’s respect in West African culture. Putting food in very large bowls or plates, even if it can fit in smaller ones, shows that you have compassion and are willing to share with the community. This I know because I grew up eating in very large plates all the time even when eating by myself. After making the food, my mom put the food on the table. She removed the dates first then placed the food one by one using her right hand only. She liked to transfer very hot things into things that require you to only use one handle just so she can transfer it and sit it on the dinner table with her right hand.

Q: Why is it so important for you to use your right hand to take things?

A: The right hand is respected. In West African Culture doing anything with your left hand when it comes to taking is very disrespectful and may cause you to be shunned by elders. It’s important for me to show you guys how to take things because in Africa if you take something from someone with your left hand, they would slap your hand.

I knew to always use my right hand but I never asked since I was just that kid that did what she was told. It’s really interesting to know the reason my mom does certain things because she grew up doing it and got so used to it. These cultural norms from West Africa are so embedded into my mom’s character that she naturally does it and made sure we grew up doing so as well. The kitchen is a very respected place, so doing things with blessings from God and respect makes complete sense to me. The kitchen table is very large in our home because we have to set very large plates down. A larger plate is set in the center where everyone would eat with their hands. We would transfer food from the smaller plates to put it in the extremely large plate for everyone to dig in. Eating with our hands is very traditional and something very normal to me. It’s so normal to me that using eating utensils when i’m not home can get annoying to me. After eating, my siblings and I clean up the table and take everything away. In less than 15 minutes the dining table is empty again and a box of dates are placed there for desert. 

My mother’s kitchen table is based off of her religion and cultural norms growing up in West Africa. In everything that she does I can either tie it back to Islam or the Ivory Coast.


Blog Post 1

A dish that is important to me would be my favorite meal: Placali. This is a West African dish originated from The Ivory Coast. My mom is from The Ivory Coast while my dad is from Guinea, so I was raised heavily in the traditions and cultures of both of these West African countries. The origin of this dish is one to be debated because online it says it originated from Ghana however, in reality, if you were to ask any West African they would state that Ivory Coast is its origin. Placali is a cassava dip in stew sauce that my family makes specifically. The cassava used to make the actual placali is grounded and beat with water which turns it into a thick paste that is a bit sweet. My mom makes her special sauce from okra and lots of spices. My family and I are extreme spice lovers. Every Ivorian, however, makes the sauce to the placali very different and I only knew this when I purchased a dish from an African restaurant. The only time my mom makes this dish is for holidays or when something great has happened in the family. Placali has become a celebratory dish for me and a dish of happiness. It’s always made with love and extreme joy in the moment.


The last time that my mom made placali was last month when my cousin graduated with her Bachelors from Fordham University. We had a big gathering and my mom brought her big dish of placali that everyone was anticipating. I enjoy placali serving this role in my life because I can never eat it and be in an unhappy state. This dish can cheer me up through anything because it’s effect on me has been imprinted since when I was young. Other natives see placali is just another dish they can eat whenever, but I don’t allow myself to eat it on the regular just because of its great significance to me. 

Here is a picture of some of my family members on the day my older cousin graduated. This picture calls for some Placali.





  • Cassava
  • water
  • lemon optional


  1. Soak peeled cassava in water. You may use frozen cassava. Make sure it is fully covered in water. Leave to ferment covered outside for a couple of days. Change water daily.
  2. After about 4-5 days remove cassava, it should be soft by now. However, all the cassava does not get soft, don’t sweat it.
  3. Cut in small pieces to facilitate blending, if cassava is not too soft.
  4. Pulse or blend in batches with a little bit of water in a blender or food processor until puree.
  5. You may cook at this point or proceed with the next steps.
  6. Using a drainer  squeeze out water from the cassava puree, this helps for storage .
  7. Wrap in portions and freeze until ready to use – unfroze before using.
  8. Place desired amount of fufu in a sauce pan on a medium heat. Add a little bit of hot water as needed. Keep stirring vigorously until cooked through. This takes about 10-15 minutes depending on the quantity.
  9. Then shape them into oval and wrap with thin plastic.