International Cooking: Food from Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is a small country located on the west coast of Central Africa, and it includes a few islands, one of which is the home of its capital. The name is a reference to the country’s position near the Equator and the Gulf of Guinea.

Over the years, parts of Equatorial Guinea have been controlled by the Portuguese, the Spanish, and the British, with the country gaining independence in 1968. It is the only African country where Spanish is an official language.

Currently, Equatorial Guinea is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producers, which has led to it becoming the richest country per capita in Africa. This isn’t necessarily a good thing for the people though, because the wealth is distributed very unevenly and less than half the people have access to clean drinking water.

This was a hard week because I couldn’t find many dishes to make, and most of the ones I did find turned out to be better suited to another country. No one responded to my Reddit post, so I had to rely on the little information I could find online.

What Do People Eat in Equatorial Guinea?

Aside from showing similarities to the cuisine of the surrounding countries, Equatoguinean cuisine is strongly influenced by Spain. Strong flavors and high spice levels are present in many dishes.

Soups and stews are very common, with a wide range of vegetables as some of the main ingredients. Main dishes are usually served with rice, yuca/cassava, taro, or plantain.

Fish is very popular, and is often wrapped in banana leaves before cooking. Meat such as chicken and game are quite common too.

I came across a few dishes involving forest snails or sea snails, but those aren’t exactly easy to get around here and I’m not sure I’m prepared to cook those myself anyway!

A dish I could have made if I liked banana is a dessert called akwadu, made by baking bananas with coconut.

What I Made

Pick a Pepper Soup (Spicy Fish Soup)

Pick a Pepper Soup (Spicy Fish Soup)

This is a soup made with fish, onion, tomato, red bell pepper, chili, paprika, and herbs. I used tilapia for the fish instead of the snapper called for in the recipe. This was very easy and tasted alright, but I don’t think I’d make it again.

The recipe I used is from Travel By Stove, but I did make a few changes to the cooking process. Rather than just throw in all the ingredients and boil, I sauteed the vegetables before adding the fish and spices, then the liquid. I simmered lightly until the fish was cooked through.

Succotash (Lima Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes)

Succotash (Lima Beans, Corn, and Tomatoes)

Succotash is kind of like a warm salad based on lima beans and corn. This one also has tomato, onion, garlic, thyme, dill, chives, red wine vinegar, and butter. I think the ingredients can vary quite a bit.

This is a dish that was created by Native Americans, and it became popular in the American South. It is thought that it came to Equatorial Guinea after slavery was abolished. Former slaves and/or their descendants brought the dish back home, and it is now so popular that it is considered the national dish of Equatorial Guinea.

This dish was alright; I’m not sure how authentic this version is to what you would find in Equatorial Guinea, but this was a hard country to research. The recipe I used is from National Dish. I omitted the bacon, since the recipe itself says it’s not included in Equatorial Guinea.

Paella (Spicy Chicken and Rice)

Paella (Spicy Chicken and Rice)

This is the Equatoguinean version of paella, stemming from Spanish influence, and it is typically quite spicy. It is usually made with chicken or guinea fowl, but there are also versions that use shrimp. Unlike Spanish paella, this doesn’t include saffron, and black-eyed peas or other kinds of beans are added.

This recipe comes from Healthy Life, which I followed almost exactly. I used dried black-eyed peas (which I cooked prior to starting the paella) and I used chicken thighs instead of guinea fowl, which would have been difficult to obtain.

Final Thoughts

I wish I could have found more information on dishes this week. I wasn’t a big fan of everything I made, but I did enjoy the paella.

Next week, I will be cooking food from Eritrea.

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