About the Food of Central African Republic

The dusty, rolling plains of Central African Republic (CAR) lead to fertile river beds in the south, and sandy desert in the northeast.

Many people live on stewed greens, cooking whatever is available, including cassava (recipe), spinach, or kale. Groundnut butter (a.k.a. peanut butter) is used to add flavor and protein to food when meat is unavailable. Most often, greens are served with rice or foutou – a pasty mash of plantain or cassava.

Groundnut butter is also used to add flavor to local desserts. Sometimes the creamy spread is cooked into sweetened rice for a particularly addictive treat which looks like tan rice pudding (recipe).

Egusi, or melon seed, is particularly popular in Central African Republic. When finely ground, combined with hot chili peppers, tomato, and onion, the seed makes a thick sauce (recipe) to add interest to plantains, yams, rice, fish or grilled meat.

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Comments

  1. I hitchhiked across the country from sleepy, charming riverside Bangui through to Bouar and the Cameroon. It was the Central African Empire then, ruled by the notorious Emperor Bokassa I. I don’t remember a thing about the food except for one horrible dish like Chinese congee called Bouillie. Poor people ate it.

    • globaltable says:

      Hitchhiking – times sure have changed. I remember doing that in France as a kid, but not sure I would be brave enough any more.

  2. In CAR, ‘foufou’ is called Gozo and is a particularly addictive starch made from cassava. While living their I also had the priveledge of eating termites, caterpillars, fresh water shrimp and all kinds of bush meat.

    My favorite meal, by far, was amaranth greens cooked in peanut butter sauce with hot peppers.

    • globaltable says:

      How wonderful you’ve been there… I wish I had known so I could pick your brain about recipes and preparation. :) Sounds like you are a good, Adventurous eater!

  3. Here’s a memory of this country. Just about the last lunar eclipse I saw occurred on a warm balmy night in the Central African Empire. I had stopped at a small village, and the villagers were terrified …not of me, but of the eclipse. Obviously some horrendous monster was devouring the moon…taking bites the way a child will nibble a cookie. In desperation, the people banged pots and pans together, hoping against all odds that the fearsome clanging would drive the beast away. I am proud to report that it worked. The moon came back. And that is the true, unreported but very inspirational story of how a small band of poor and probably illiterate farmers in the remote fastness of the Central African jungle saved the moon. If you’ve ever been bathed in cold moonlight or enjoyed a moonlit stroll on a sultry summer night…you owe it all to that tiny band of determined men.

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