CAPE VERDE FOOD
Cape Verde food is heavily influenced by its island status. Fish is consequently the mainstay of the cuisine. The climate is generally too dry to grow crops on many of the islands. Many of the fruit and vegetables available in the shops or on restaurant menus are imported. There are many restaurants in the main towns, some offering Creole food, others international cuisine. Some will have live music at least once a week. Visitors should try the wine from the island of Fogo which is very good.
Seafood is available almost everywhere in Cape Verde. Fish is a mainstay of Cape Verde cuisine. You can usually buy fresh fish on or near the beach. A variety of fish (peixe in Portuguese) can be found including tuna, wahoo and garoupa. In some places you can see the fishermen coming in with their catch. That is the time to go to the beach to buy some of their catch. In restaurants, you will pay from about 600CVE (€5) for a grilled fish, although prices vary a little. You may then pay up to approximately 1500CVE (€13) for something such as lobster, or prawns. The fish on offer includes varieties not widely known in Europe. Buzio is a stew made with shellfish.
Meat and vegetables
Chicken is readily available and so are eggs and are cheap if you compare them to European prices. Meat is available, but beef is rare and is not something regularly eaten. A stew called cachupa is one of the speciality dishes in Cape Verdean cuisine. Cachupa is cooked slowly and comprises corn, beans, cassava, sweet potato and fish or meat. It varies in detail from island to island, but you should try it when visiting the country. In some places it is served for breakfast. You may also try the seafood specialities in Cape Verde such as buzio (conch or sea snail) and also percebes (sea fingers or gooseneck barnacles).
Restaurants and wine
Restaurants are plentiful in the larger towns. In smaller villages and on the smaller islands, they may be fewer, but some of the food can still be of good quality. Many restaurants will look quite basic to western eyes, but the food is good. You will find that eating out is not expensive and compared to Europe, most restaurants could be considered cheap. Wine is available and usually at very reasonable prices. The vineyards on the island of Fogo produce Chã, a very nice wine. These vineyards are within the Caldera (crater) of the volcano. This wine is a little more expensive, but well worth trying. Unfortunately the eruption of the volcano in 2014 adversely affected the production of the wine, but it can still be found.
The availability of food varies, however, on some of the smaller islands shops are dependent on the arrival of the boat. You will find a good selection of food can be found on the bigger, more tourist orientated islands. There you will find small local shops and slightly larger supermarkets. Supermarkets are generally a lot smaller than those in Europe. A wide variety of fruit and vegetables is available in the market. Some of the produce may be unfamiliar to Europeans, but should be sampled. Some markets also sell eggs and other more common foods in addition to fruit and vegetables.
The locally created Cape Verde alcohol is Grog (grogue, grogu or grogo). Grog is made from sugarcane and generally it is artisanal, so it varies from place to place and also varies in quality. So it is a form of rum. It is normally more than 40% alcohol. The sugarcane is mainly grown on Santo Antão and Santiago. Grog is gradually being introduced to the European market. The quality of this will be controlled and identified by the term ‘Grogue Official’. Grog is also the basis of a cocktail call Ponche (the name derived from punch), which also includes lime and molasses. The Brazilian inspired caipirinha is also popular. It is also often made with grogue, together with lime and ice. It makes a lovely refreshing drink.
Strela beer is found on all the islands. It is brewed on the island of Santiago.