The foods eaten by the people of Guinea-Bissau

The cuisine of Guinea-Bissau has a rich history, influenced by indigenous traditions, its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, its diverse ethnic groups, and interactions with other cultures, including the Portuguese during the colonial era. Here is a general outline of foods commonly eaten in Guinea-Bissau over the last 500 years:


  • Rice: A primary staple, especially in coastal regions, usually served with vegetables, fish, or meat in a sauce.
  • Cassava: Consumed both in its root form and as a processed product like "gari" (fried, fermented cassava granules) or "fufu" (a starchy side dish made by pounding boiled cassava).
  • Millet and Sorghum: These grains are often used in the form of porridges or flatbreads, particularly in inland areas.
  • Corn: Sometimes used as a substitute for other grains in dishes or porridges.


  • Fish and Seafood: Given the country's long coastline, fish and seafood like shrimp and oysters are abundantly consumed, often grilled, fried, or used in stews.
  • Chicken and Meat: Usually consumed in the form of stews or grilled. Goat and pork are also common.
  • Legumes: Beans and peanuts are frequently used as a source of protein, particularly in stews.

Vegetables and Fruits:

  • Okra: Commonly used in stews and soups.
  • Tomatoes, Onions, and Peppers: These are essential ingredients for various stews and sauces.
  • Leafy Greens: Such as cassava leaves, are also used in various dishes.
  • Fruits: Mangoes, papayas, bananas, and coconuts are readily available.

Spices and Herbs:

  • Hot Peppers: Used to add spice to various dishes.
  • Ginger, Garlic, and Coriander: These are among the commonly used spices and herbs.
  • Palm Oil: Frequently used in traditional dishes for frying and sautéing.

Traditional Dishes:

  • Cachupa: A stew made with corn, beans, and fish or meat, influenced by Portuguese cuisine.
  • Caldo: A fish stew made with tomatoes and palm oil.
  • Akara: Fried bean cakes, often enjoyed as a snack.


  • Palm Wine: A traditional alcoholic beverage made from the sap of palm trees.
  • Green Tea: Often consumed, sometimes with added mint.
  • Cashew Juice: Made from the fruit of the cashew tree, which is abundant in Guinea-Bissau.

Historical Influences:

  • Indigenous Practices: The Balanta, Fula, and other ethnic groups have contributed significantly to the culinary practices of Guinea-Bissau.
  • Portuguese Influence: Colonial interactions brought ingredients like corn and also introduced new cooking techniques.

Modern Influences:

  • Modern trade and globalization have introduced some new foods like pasta, bread, and canned goods, but these are generally secondary to the traditional staples, particularly in rural areas.

The culinary traditions of Guinea-Bissau are diverse and reflect the country's varied geography, cultural history, and external influences over the centuries.

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