¡Hola from Equatorial Guinea! Aside from being the only Spanish-speaking nation in Africa, this country is also unique because its capital city lies on a large island, Bioko, located off the coast of Cameroon. Equatorial Guinea is infamous for being one of the worst governed (and least visited) countries on the planet, but this weekend we hoped to learn about its charms as well as its difficulties.
For breakfast on Saturday morning, Jess prepared a hot breakfast of millet porridge and ginger topped with some turbinado sugar. Bitter, but wholesome:
After breakfast, we watched several related videos from Geography Now. First came the standard country overview for Equatorial Guinea:
As Jess had done for breakfast, I consulted the trusty World Cookbook to figure out what to make for lunch, since online information about the cuisine of Equatorial Guinea is scarce. I was soon chopping up some turnip greens for a meatless version of the cookbook’s maffi hakko (top). I also cubed some yams and cassava for a shrimpless version of the “yam and shrimp stew” (left).
Fortunately, Jess had discovered some breaded vegetarian “fish” filets at the co-op and we enjoyed those as well (right).
Later that afternoon, we watched an uncomfortably optimistic documentary about new investment opportunities in Equatorial Guinea, released in cooperation with the Ministry of Information, which was one of the only videos that we could find about the country on YouTube. (We were unable to find any feature films, either.) The documentary gave us a curated look at the country’s new roads, shipping facilities, five-star hotels, and golf courses, but revealed little about the impoverished lives of ordinary citizens.
For dinner that evening, Jess tried some recipes for sauce gombo (okra) and loco (fried plantain), both of which also came from the World Cookbook. Everything was delicious over rice!
The next morning, I tried my hand at making the millet porridge, with similarly bitter results. Later that day, Jess prepared a much sweeter treat: a banana coconut bake called akwadu, purported to be a popular breakfast item in Equatorial Guinea. Jess made the skinless version with regular (cavendish) bananas.
As we enjoyed the baked bananas, we watched a Spanish-language documentary called En Clave de Vida (“The Key to Life”) about efforts to preserve the natural resources of Equatorial Guinea:
Although the video did not have English subtitles, we learned how members of the group Conservation International have been working to persuade local residents to embrace ecotourism and other sustainable industries instead of engaging in harmful practices such as hunting bushmeat.
After another hearty dinner of vegetarian “fish,” greens, and yams, we ready ready to call it a weekend. While we hadn’t managed to find as much information on Equatorial Guinea as we would have liked, we enjoyed getting to know a bit about its culture and its cuisine. ¡Adiós!