Cape Verdean Food
For many travelers local gastronomy is one of the most important aspects of the trip. We all love to dive into the (unknown) local cuisine, discovering dishes that are unlike the meals we have back home.
Food is a great way to get to know a country and region better. Food makes us feel connected. Often, there are beautiful and historical stories behind the dishes we all in foreign countries.
The following types of food tell the story of Cape Verde. They tell the story of a country that has fought it's way through colonization, drought and poverty. It tells the story of a people known for their strength, work ethic and hospitality known as Morabeza.
Here are 6 types of food you must try in Cape Verde:
Without a doubt the number one traditional dish of Cape Verde. Cachupa is a slow cooked stew made with corn, beans, pork and (sweet) potato. There are a few different variations of the dish, which can depend on the region or island you are.
Often, the way the dish is formed is explained by going back to when times were very difficult for most Cape Verdeans. The ingredients of the Cachupa were more or less the 'leftovers' which were then all used to put one big stew together.
Cachupa guisod is the 'leftovers' of the dish, which is usually served for breakfast or lunch. It's re-fried, and served with fried egg(s). Many Cape Verdean families around the world have a tradition of having Cachupa on Saturday night, and Cachupa guisod on Sunday morning.
Cuscuz can be described as a cake, made out of flower, cinnamon, honey and sugar. It's best served when it's still warm, with a bit of butter. Cape Verdeans have cuscuz for breakfast, and as a lanche, a word used to decribe a small meal or snack, usually enjoyed in the afternoon, or the start of the night.
On the island of São Vicente, you can try the Cuscuz at a 'Casa da Cuscuz' in Mindelo. A unemployed young man saw the creation of a traditional café/restaurant as a way to change his situation for the better. The place has been doing great, thanks to the combination of great traditional meals and a very creative interior which tells the story of Cuscuz.
"Oli Kavala Fresk! Kavala Fresk e barat!" (Here's some fresh Kavala! Fresh and cheap Kavala!)
These are typical things you will hear from vendors in the colorful streets of Cape Verde.
Mackerel, Kavala in Kriol, has always been important for many Cape Verdeans. An example of a simple and affordable dish for many used to exist out of Kavala (or another type of fish) and rice.
In recent years prices of the Kavala have gone up, and many people believe this has to do with big fishing corporations working in Cape Verdean territory, leaving little for local fishermen.
A few years ago Mindelo hosted its first Kavala Fresk Feastival. Within a few years this festival has grown into one of Mindelo's most popular events. The 2017 edition was even turned into a 2-day event due to the succes of previous editions.
Cape Verde has a few very popular and tasty 'snacks' such as risois and croquetes. No Cape Verdean party or event is complete without them.
But the most famous of these snacks is probably the pastel d'atum. This delicious little snack is made out of dough, tuna, onion and spices (among other ingredients).
This delicious fried fish is normally served as a snack. Morea can be difficult to eat because of its many 'bones'. This is one of the reasons why it can't be served well as (part of) an entire meal.
The morea will be prepared and well breaded first, before being fried. Fresh caught morea is best with an ice cold Cape Verdean Strela beer. The morea is an important income course in Cape Verde for fishermen, vendors and local restaurant owners.
On the island of Santiago, the Santa Catarina City Hall has organised a first Moreia Festival to promote "local Cape Verdean gastronomy". The first edition of the event was held in August 2018. Location of the culinary event was the fisherman village of Ribeira de Barca. Local restaurants participated, presenting their best creations and variations of the tasteful morea.
Santo Antão is an island with a long history of goat cheese production, something that is still visible on the island today. The famous queijo from Santo Antão is the only Cape Verdean product that has won an award at the international event 'Slow Food', back in 2007. In 2017 the goat cheese from the 'island of mountains' won a Slow Cheese Award in Italy, partially due to its purely natural process.
The island of Maio also has a long history of high quality goat cheese production, which was used by the local population to support themselves. This cheese is known for its specific taste, which is different from the cheeses produced on other islands.
Which of the above have you tried? And what dish or snack do you feel is missing here?
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