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Ancestral Cooking Forum

African roots of Gumbo (okra)

Great idea for a forum!

I have always been fascinated by the retention of both African and indigenous names for foods we eat.

Gumbo, or quimbombo in Spanish, or quingombo in Portuguese is actually a Bantu term.

Would love to read of other such retentions.

I have a list of familiar food terms derived from Africa or indigenous groups. Does anyone have more to add?

Sorry can't cite original source of the following (but several sites have the same list:

goober (peanut) -- Bantu -guba
gumbo -- Bantu -gombo 'okra'
okra -- Ashante nkru
yam -- Fulani nyami 'to eat'

The slave trade brought many new words from the Caribbean:
barbecue -- Carib barbricot
cassava -- Taino caçábi
guava -- Caribbean
maize -- Carib mahiz
papaya -- Carib
pawpaw -- Carib (same source as papaya)
potato -- Taino batata

From the Indians of Mexico, we adopted many other words, some through Spanish and others directly:

avocado -- Nahuatl ahuacatl
chile, chili -- Nahuatl chilli
chocolate -- Aztec xocolatl
cocoa, cacao -- Nahuatl cacahuatl
guacamole -- Nahuatl ahuaca-molli 'avocado sauce'
tomato -- Nahuatl tomatl


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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