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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Cassava and a diet high in variety.
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The Democratic Republic of Congo is situated in Central Africa and features a traditional cuisine, with traces of Arabic, European (mainly French) and Asian influences. The Congolese people grow grains such as millet and sorghum, tubers such as cassava and yam, and a vast range of fruits and vegetables. These food crops are consumed throughout the country, but traditional dishes and cooking methods differ based on region and ethnic group. Most meals include a starch, vegetable and some meat. It is not uncommon to find insects—caterpillars, crickets and grasshoppers—as part of a meal. These are usually grilled or broiled.

Because cassava is available year round—unlike corn, which is seasonal—it is a key ingredient in many Congolese dishes. Many dishes use cassava as the primary element, such as saka saka, ground cassava leaves cooked with palm oil and peanut paste. Other dishes feature it as a side, like the national favorite moambe, made from chicken, palm nuts, peanuts, rice, cassava leaves, bananas and hot pepper sauce. In urban areas, meals include beef and pork, while in rural parts fish and game meat is more popular. Meat is typically served in a stew or on skewers, which is characteristic of African cuisine in general.—Alexandra Menglide


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