21 February 2009

Angolan Cuisine: A Primer

A lot of people have been asking about the food here. The short answer might be a little disappointing, because grilled chicken with rice and french fries is a pretty staple lunch here, and that’s just not very exotic now, is it? There’s also no exotic game meat compared to what you might see on the menu in other southern African countries (sorry, kudu lovers). Steak and fish round out the main protein sources, as well as canned beans, corn, and peas imported from either Portugal or South Africa.

Typical self-prepared meal (rice, canned beans and corn, and ground beef, with mangoes for dessert and "30 Rock" DVD for entertainment):

Like anywhere though, there are a few local specialties that might raise an eyebrow, so I’ll summarize these along with a few notes on how food is different here, after all.


Made with either corn flour or manioc flour, this is the most common Angolan comfort food. It’s basically a white-ish pasty substance, at times gelatinous, and nearly always flavorless (at least when I’ve tried it). Some Angolan friends insist it does have a flavor, but I think that’s pride talking. Think of mashed potatoes meets homemade glue, minus the potato flavor. Hungry yet?

Manioc (cassava) flour drying:

The final product (www.pbase.com/arodri3/ image/59692522):

Fermented corn beverage, low alcohol content. Thirsty yet?

I haven’t tried this, but hear it’s done. Even my Angolan colleague admits it's not her favorite food…

The trees:

The pods:

Heavy texture, also found in cuisine of the Brazilian Northeast (it's called dindĂȘ oil there).

Grouper (garopa) is the ubiquitous main catch, and cod (bacalhau) is popular too. You see the salty stuff in roadside stalls and in the supermarkets. I’ve yet to try it but will give it a shot one of these days.

Take your pick!

The cane is my least favorite of the three - it's a lot of work per calorie and although it was sweet it left my throat feeling a little scratchy. The local pineapple crop was a pleasant surprise though. I never liked pineapple back home but here it seems juicier and sweeter. As for the mangoes, they are fresh off the tree and so juicy it ought to be a crime. A clear highlight of the local culinary options. It would be my favorite if it weren’t for…

Not so sure about the sugarcane:

The pineapple comes to you:

The best aspect of Angolan cuisine, bar none. It’s the local hot sauce, usualy homemade, that gets better over time and can really pack a punch. With this stuff even funge might be palatable. Maybe.

Bonus Photo: TAP Air Portugal meal on the flight from Lisbon prompting my traveling colleague to comment "that looks like something I would actually make":

1 comment:

LP said...

You havn't tried bacalao? Do you have access to coconut milk? I can send you an awesome reciope served with mandioc flour that may change your mind.