The West African Comfort Food No One Can Resist

Tracing the importance of peanuts in the diaspora back to Ghana’s groundnut soup

Kayla Stewart
ZORA
Published in
6 min readAug 8, 2019

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Illustration: Tiffany Mallery

IIt’s hard to understate the importance of peanuts in food around the world. One can venture to Vietnam to find peanut sauce accompanying plump spring rolls; Indonesia’s satay and lontong wouldn’t be what they are without the borderline saccharine peanut sauce to envelope the satay skewer; and Latin America’s mole poblano makes a particularly masterful use of the legume.

In the United States, the peanut is used in various dishes and desserts, from the national staple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, to peanut salads and peanut butter and chocolate cookies, to bags of peanuts served to sports lovers at baseball games.

These products owe a great debt to George Washington Carver, the master of peanut production as we know it in the U.S. Indeed, the role of peanuts in the American food tapestry wouldn’t be possible without the Black brilliance that created it. So when I traveled to Accra, Ghana, during the “Year of Return” — a Ghanaian marker of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of slaves in Jamestown, Virginia — I was thrilled to find groundnut soup, a dish rooted in the salty, delightful groundnut that was reflective of West African cuisine.

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Kayla Stewart
ZORA
Writer for

Kayla Stewart is a freelance journalist from Houston, and is currently based in Harlem.