Cachupa – Cape Verde’s national dish
Cachupa – Cape Verde’s national dish

The cuisine on Cape Verde can be called as relatively hearty. There is no doubt that the national dish of the islands is the cachupa. This is a type of stew, consisting of mashed maize, onions, green bananas, manioc, sweet potatoes, squash, yams, tomatoes, cabbage and possibly bacon. It is seasoned with bay leaves, garlic and pimento. Depending on the cook’s wallet, it is also offered with various types of sausage, beef, pork or fish (cachupa rica). The Cape Verdeans enjoy their favourite meal at almost any time of the day: for breakfast, as well as lunch or dinner. Stews, which also include the bean dish called feijoada, are very popular in a great variety of versions on the islands. In addition, there is the canja de galinha (a “must” at every wedding), a rice soup with chicken and the caldo de peixe, a fish soup, that drive away hunger just like beaf de atum, a tuna steak, the traditional carne guisado (braised meat) or the stewed limpets (lapas) that are steamed in peppers.

There is also a great diversity of desserts on Cape Verde, most of which are usually homemade. Due to the many types of fruit on the islands (coconut, papaya, guavas, mangos, etc.), imaginative creations are made here: The doce de papaya (a type of papaya jelly) is just as worthy of recommendation as the cheese pudding or coffee pudding from Fogo or the doce de coco.

In addition to the classic grogue, which is everywhere on the islands, be sure to try out the different variations of the national drink. The pontche is a mixture of grog and sugar-cane molasses, refined with citrus fruit and cloves. The pontche de coco or the orange grogue are also very special.

Practical Tips:
Invitation to a Meal:
Every Cape Verdean is happy to receive a small gift as a token of appreciation for his or her hospitality. It is considered impolite to help yourself to the last bit in the bowl.

Europeans should say goodbye to the idea that they can draw conclusions about the quality of the food from the outer impression of the restaurant. Moreover, many little restaurants that usually serve an excellent cachupa or feijoada cannot even be recognised as such from the outside. So ask to have a restaurant recommended to you.