Fufu is a popular staple in Central Africa. It is basically a thick porridge made of boiled and pounded starchy root crops.
In Gabon, the most popular root crop used for making fufu is the cassava root.
Fufu is usually eaten with a side dish such as meat or stew. It is traditionally eaten with no utensils. In fact, fufu is used as an eating utensil itself.
To eat fufu, you need take a marble-sized bit of the thick porridge and make an indentation in the middle with your thumb. You use this indentation to scoop up the soup or sauce that you are eating with it.
Dishes very similar to fufu exist in other parts of Africa. In Kenya and Tanzania, it is called ugali; in Zambia, it is nshima. It is pap in South Africa and sadza in Zimbabwe.
Nyembwe chicken is Gabon’s national dish. It’s a stew of chicken meat, tomatoes, garlic, onions,chili pepper, okra, and nyembwe, or palm butter.
Although nyembwe chicken is the most popular variety of several nyembwe dishes in Gabon,other meats can also be used, including fish, beef, mutton, venison, even crocodile or other bush meat.
The heart of the dish, of course, is the nyembwe, which is made from the red pericarp (nut covering) of the African oil palm tree. These days, there is a canned version of such, which makes the dish’s preparation much simpler.
Aside from Gabon, three other countries consider chicken nyembwe their national dish as well:the Republic of Congo, where they say“moambe”instead of“nyembwe”; the Democratic Republic of Congo, where nyembe is called mwambi; and Angola, where they say“muamba.”
Baked banana is a favorite Gabonese dessert. To make it, you need a lightly beaten egg, and about two tablespoons of orange juice, a cup of bread crumbs, and of course, bananas.
You beat the egg and orange juice together, dip the bananas in the mixture, then roll the bananas in bread crumbs.
Deep fry the bananas until they start to brown, then bake them for five minutes.
Let the bananas cool before serving. This dessert tastes best when topped with sour cream and a sprinkling of brown sugar.
Gabon is known for its abundant natural resources, and the wealth of its waters equals the wealth of its land.
In other words, seafood is abundant here, and you just have to take advantage of that.
In restaurants, you can order spaghetti with lobster, fish in curry sauce, fish soup, fish capaccio, stuffed crabs–the list goes on and on. French cooking, by the way, is big in Gabon.
But don’t limit yourself to fancy seafood cuisine. The best way to really taste fresh seafood is straight from the sea, boiled or grilled, with no utensils but your hands. Join the sea hunt and have your catch for lunch.
The Gabonese love meat, and they get them where they can, so don’t assume that every meat offered to you is either beef, pork, chicken, or fish. It could be wild boar or antelope. It could be crocodile. It could even be monkey or pangolin.
As we’ve said before, Gabon has a thriving wildlife, and many Gabonese who live near the forest retain their hunting traditions. If they don’t hunt, they don’t eat; and lunch is usually whatever the day’s catch is, so the picky ones starve (and they don’t get to pass their picky genes to the next generation).
In fact, it’s been noted by some visitors that unlike the crocodiles in other parts of Africa, who hang around watching you, the crocodiles in Gabon tend to run away–they know they’re being eyed for lunch.
You don’t need to go hunting to get a taste of bushmeat, though (in the event that you should want some). Just ask around, and the locals will point you to restaurants that serve grilled crocodile meat or crocodile stew.