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In much of tropical Africa, however, cow's milk is rare and cannot be produced locally (owing to various diseases that affect livestock).The continent's diverse demographic makeup is reflected in the many different eating and drinking habits, dishes, and preparation techniques of its manifold populations. Ingredients common to many cultures in the east and Southeast regions of the continent include rice, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, chilies, dried onions, soy, and tofu.Cuisines evolve continually, and new cuisines are created by innovation and cultural interaction.One recent example is fusion cuisine, which combines elements of various culinary traditions while not being categorized per any one cuisine style, and generally refers to the innovations in many contemporary restaurant cuisines since the 1970s.The trade among different countries also largely affects a region's cuisine.Dating back to the ancient spice trade, seasonings such as cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, and turmeric were important items of commerce in the earliest evolution of trade.

Throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean there is a common thread marking the use of lamb, olive oil, lemons, peppers, and rice.Cinnamon and cassia found their way to the Middle East at least 4,000 years ago.Certain foods and food preparations are required or proscribed by the religiousness or sumptuary laws, such as Islamic dietary laws and Jewish dietary laws.Regional food preparation traditions, customs and ingredients often combine to create dishes unique to a particular region.Some factors that have an influence on a region's cuisine include the area's climate, the trade among different countries, religiousness or sumptuary laws and culinary culture exchange.Culinary culture exchange is also an important factor for cuisine in many regions: Japan’s first substantial and direct exposure to the West came with the arrival of European missionaries in the second half of the 16th century.

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