It is important for historians studying West Africa before the sixteenth century, particularly social and economic historians, to know what the basic foods were before the arrival of crops from the Americas such as maize, cassava, ground nuts, red peppers and tomatoes. Medieval Arabic historians and geographers recorded a great deal of information about social and economic life in Africa during the period and this is a full-scale attempt to make use of the material related to foodstuffs and the preparation of the food. The references collected from the Arabic texts are interpreted in the light of the work of modern ethnographers and the descriptions given by travellers in more recent times.
1. Arabic sources for the history of the foodstuffs used by West African peoples; 2. Vegetable foodstuffs; 3. Meat and fish; 4. Other foodstuffs; 5. Utensils.