About the food of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau

People of Guinea

Are you ready? This week is a double hitter; we’re discussing two West African neighbors, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Don’t be fooled by their names – these countries are quite a bit different. Especially when it comes to the food.

Sure they both share a love for typical West African foods, like Groundnut soup (absolutely amazing) [recipe], Batons de manioc (fascinating!) [recipe], Yucca Fries [Recipe], Jollof (a rice dish cooked with tomatoes and spices) [Recipe] and loads of tropical fruit so fresh it would make you weep (try this papaya chutney, for example [Recipe]), but they also have completely different cultures.

For starters, Guinea is a former French colony. This means the city folk they pile their plates high with French-inspired dishes, like ones we’ve visited in the past – classic French omelets [recipe] or coupé coupé (smoked bbq meats) in a baguette sandwich [recipe].

On the other hand, Guinea-Bissau is a former Portuguese colony. Head into one of the big-town bakeries and you’ll likely see cases of Portuguese pastries, cookies [Recipe], and breads. You’ll also find tons of cashews because the nut grows plentifully in Guinea Bissau – in fact, the fruit surrounding the cashew is pounded to make wine.

People of Guinea-Bissau

While the names might be similar, these two African countries share a distinct culinary heritage. Can you taste the difference?

Guinea Photos: Haypo, KaBa (KaaBaa), kevinzim
Guinea-Bissau Photos: Ferdinand Reus, Francofranco


    • Sasha Martin says

      That’s the goal 😉 What was the jollof like that you tried?

  1. Brian S. says

    The two main peoples of Guinea are among the most glorious in Africa. The Malinke are the heirs to the grand Mali Empire which, in 1300, was so rich and famous that people in Europe had heard of it. Later on, many were captured and sold as slaves. In the antebellum South, even racist slaveowners were aware of the Malinke people and paid extra for slaves from this people, which they called “Mandingo” Here is the runaway slaves section of the classified ads in a Charleston newspaper from 1807. An escaped slave will, if captured, get a $5 reward for the capturer, but an escaped Malinke slave gets a $100 reward. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-0lcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=SlYNAAAAIBAJ&pg=4693%2C1206952&dq=mandingo&hl=en

    The Fulani are a sedentary branch of a tribe which is mostly nomadic. In 1735 they united to form a country in what’s now eastern Guinea. That country had a written constitution. In 1735!!! 50 years before the U.S.

    I loved Guinea. The people were among the kindest I’ve met. Unfortunately most of my week-long visit was spent in prison. I entered without a visa. They never gave visas. In those days, Guinea was one of the most isolated countries in the world, cut off from everyone except Russia and North Korea. It was called the “People’s Revolutionary Republic of Guinea” Instead of saying Allo when they answered the telephone, people said “Ready for Revolution”. Besides standing up to de Gaulle, Seko Toure’s government had its good side. Music, both tradition kora sonatas and more modern music with electric guitars was encouraged, and some of Africa’s best music was issued by the government record company, Syliphone.

    • Sasha Martin says

      I’m wondering when you are going to capture all of these memories for the world to read…. a book, perhaps? So interesting.

    • Hi Brian, Interesting facts… some stuff I didn’t know and I’ve been going to and researching Guinea for a long time. What’s your connection to Guinea… if you see this! The post is already a couple of years old.

      • Brian S. says

        No connection now, just that week-long visit during Sekou Toure’s time… and a love for Africa.

  2. Pingback: Global Table Adventure | Menu: Guinea & Guinea Bissau

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