Although porridge, in whatever form, are the staple food of Africa, there are still hundreds of other foodstuff that are eaten on just as regular bases.
Some of the African traditional foods may seem strange, primitive or un-eatable to the average Westerner. But let's be honest, eating prawns, crayfish, mussels, sushi and many other delicatessen from your own region, is not that different from eating Mopane worms or Scarab larvae, or is it?
Kapenta / Fresh Water Sardines:
Kapenta is the Zambian word for fresh water sardines. This small fish is much smaller than the normal ocean sardines. The Kapenta are caught in rivers and pools with nets and then dried in the sun, can be mixed with maize or any other type of porridge. Often eaten on its own, or spiced with Chilli or curry powder. Kapenta is commonly found in the big African lakes such as Lake Tanganyika, Lake Kariba, Lake Malawi.
It is one of the most common national dishes in Zambia and also very popular in many other countries in Africa.
Mopane Worm / Caterpillar:
This Caterpillar is the larval stage of the Mopane moth ( Gonimbrasia belina). The Mopane Moth only lay its eggs on the leaves of the Mopane tree. After the first summer rains, the eggs of the moth will developed into an caterpillar. Within a few days, thousands of them would be every-where, and form an food source for birds, animals and humans.
The worms are about 4 to 5 cm long and green in colour. They are collected by hand, and the head crushed between the fingers. Mostly dried, smoke cured or cooked for further use and are a relish in many southern African countries. There are three tastes available (of which I know) Regular (cooked and smoke dried), curry marinated and deep-fried in oil, and a deep-fried chilli variety. It is a acquired taste, and personally I had problems acquiring it. But the caterpillars are high in protein, and fill an nutritional need.
Jackal Berry / Eenyandi:
Eenyandi is the berries from a big and beautiful tree in Africa, called the Jackal Berry tree (Diospyros mespiliformis), also known as the African Ebony. The berries are ovoid to spherical in shape and about 2 cm in diameter. Green at first, becoming yellow in colour when ripe. The fruit provide nutrition for birds, humans and animals, including some small carnivores such as the jackal and African civet.
Berries are eaten when ripe or dried for later use, The high sugar content of the fruit makes it an favourite with the local people for brewing beer brew, Sometimes the berries are grounded and used as porridge. The Jackal-berry tree-trunks are also used to make Makoro / Wato (traditional Okavango and Zambezi wooden canoe), for tribal medicine and many other uses.
Embe, very nice tasteful little berry, found in Namibia, southern Angola and Botswana, eaten as a relish, or fermented with water to make a very pleasant tasting brew.
African Wild Onions:
Wit-uintjies (Afrikaans name) (Moraea edulis), harvested in shallow pools, riverbeds and omarumbas (perennial rivers). Taste nice with a bit of a frank taste. Also sometimes boiled in milk and taste like sweet potato's.
Jugo beans (Vigna subterranea) are very pleasant smelling and tasting, when cooked in water, highly nutritional and filling. Some eat it for morning meal with a bit of sugar, or mix with meat for dinner.
Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is one of the most important traditional foods in Africa. It has various uses, but generally used as porridge, and the main ingredient in traditional African beer.
Pearl Millet, also called Mahango in Namibia:
Fine grounded Pearl millet or Mahango (Pennisetum glaucum): One of the most important African food crops. In many regions in Africa, it forms part of the main diet of many tribes. This is generally supplemented with wild roots, meat from wildlife, or if available, milk from goats or cattle.