Sumbala, and the shifting worlds of locust beans & soybeans in West Africa

One of the two foods highlighted in my chapter about soybeans in Africa in The World of Soy (published already 8 years ago now) was a pungent West African condiment, traditionally made with "African locust beans" but increasingly with soybeans, and known by various names such as: sumbala, sunbala, or sungala (in Manding); daddawa or … Continue reading Sumbala, and the shifting worlds of locust beans & soybeans in West Africa

International Year of Pulses 2016

Pulses? Grain legumes. Dried beans and lentils. In 2013 the UN declared 2016 as International Year of Pulses, and here we are. FAO, which is facilitating implementation of the Year, explains that "[t]he IYP 2016 aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food … Continue reading International Year of Pulses 2016

[LI] Sapir-Whorf in our millet? Vocabulary & food diversity

Most English speakers on hearing "millet" would understand a small round grain commonly sold as birdseed, and which also finds its way into multigrain foods. In that, they wouldn't be off, but the term itself, generic as it is, arguably leads to thinking about a variety of related but distinct grains as being vaguely the … Continue reading [LI] Sapir-Whorf in our millet? Vocabulary & food diversity

Four millets: More grains & the “millet spectrum”

The word "millet" in English is an inexact term. It can refer to any one of a number of cereals that have roundish grains, of which the four most cultivated worldwide - pearl/bajri, foxtail/xiaomi, proso, and finger/ragi - have been highlighted in the previous posts in this series. It can also refer collectively to all … Continue reading Four millets: More grains & the “millet spectrum”

Four millets: 3. Foxtail millet, or xiaomi

Foxtail millet (Setaria italica) is the oldest cultivated millet, the most important in East Asia, and the second most cultivated worldwide. It is believed to have been domesticated first in China, with evidence of cultivation going back about 8700 years. The species name as well as some vernacular names reflect its historic significance in Europe. … Continue reading Four millets: 3. Foxtail millet, or xiaomi