About the food of Equatorial Guinea

Monte Alen | Yellow-billed Turacos

My riding instructor invited me hunting when I was 15 years old. The thought of riding through France’s foggy woods seemed romantic, adventurous, and disarmingly elite. I desperately wanted to say yes, but I had a squeamish feeling I just couldn’t shake. Bottom line? I didn’t want to kill my dinner and I didn’t want to watch other people kill their dinner. Thankfully, I didn’t have to. I was surrounded by supermarkets, cafes, street vendors, and – just down from our house – carrot and mushroom farms. I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I said no. The closest I ever got to hunting was to pluck a carrot from the farm. Illegally. It was the biggest carrot I’d ever seen but, thanks to a lack of running water and guilt, it tasted like dirt.

In Equatorial Guinea, killing dinner is not always a choice. The rural people are known for hunting and fishing for their dinners because this is the cheapest and most available way to eat. Whole fish [Recipe], crustaceans, and various small animals are sold at the market – piled on little more than cardboard lined tables. The smile on this boy’s face says it all… “This is my normal.”

Meat market | Malabo Harbour, Bioko Island

Game is typically grilled, stewed, or fried and served with porridges – either gari (made from cassava flour) 0r thick millet porridge [Recipe]. Filling and affordable, porridge is also served for breakfast.

As far as vegetables go, they eat all manner of dark greens – anything from spinach, and kale, to more exotic fare, like sweet potato and cassava leaves. Okra is grown and enjoyed stewed with hot peppers and curry [Recipe]. Peanut sauces reign supreme, as in most of west and central Africa.

If you have a sweet tooth, go for a piece of fresh fruit. You’ll be right in line with the people of Equatorial Guinea.

Photos: Kaloyan, CIA World Factbook, BioKo, Shoshana Sommer, Podknox.

12 Comments

  1. Collette Lemons says

    What is that a head of in the picture with the little boy? Is that what you are cooking this week? I am not squeemish in the least but i will take the fresh fruit, lol.

    Very interesting. Growing up we butchered our own meat and I imagine if we lived in the country I would still be doing that. Fresh free range chicken is awesome and the color so golden…. tastes nothing like the chicken in the stores.

    • Sasha Martin says

      I believe it is a monkey head. I am not cooking that… I’m going with something a little more… accessible :)

  2. Looks like a monkey. Monkey’s brains, though popular in Cantonese cuisine are not often to be found in Washington DC. (sorry couldn’t resist quoting the movie Clue). I betcha Harvard Meats doesn’t have those?!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Yeah, probably not… though they do have some interesting and unique items.

  3. Brian S. says

    Oh I wanted SO much to go to Equatorial Guinea! But the ruler was Macias Nguema, the only man in Africa who could claim to be as bad as Idi Amin. And I couldn’t get a visa. Now, I believe, things have changed. The country is now ruled by an ordinary dictator. Oil was discovered and there’s a lot of money coming in, though the people don’t see most of it. By the way, there’s a big difference between the lovely island and the undeveloped jungle mainland.

    I found one very interesting and unique dish. Lomandoha. It is made of fresh fish, homemade chocolate, and an unusual vegetable called a malanga (it’s a tiny bit like taro or sweet potato).

    • Sasha Martin says

      Interesting… yes, I should have mentioned, the capital is on the island… Lomandoha sounds intriguing. Do you have more info or a link?

      • Brian S. says

        Sadly, I can’t find a recipe on the Internet, only enough references to know it is a real dish. It is included in a cookbook compiled by some anthropologists in 1985 with help from Spain, and published as “La Alimentación y la cocina en Guinea Ecuatorial: cultivo, caza y pesca” It’s supposed to have all sorts of recipes from every region (emphasizing the far less-developed mainland region) and even hunting techniques. Yes, it would tell you what to do with that monkey head. As happens far too often, Google Books has the complete text but does not let anyone access it for copyright reasons.

  4. …I’ll take a pass on this one, thanks…except possibly the sweet potatoes and dark greens..

  5. Great information, that’s why it is so important to travel and see the world. Being hairdressers- Of course the interesting picture of the head caught our attention.

    Africa is an amazing continent-God really has given us a lot to be thankful for.

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