Samoutou Family Blog
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About This Blog...

Family of 5 
from Gabon, Hong Kong and the UK   

Living in Impfondo,   
Republic of Congo   
Since April 2012 

Blog by Joyce the mum, 
Homeschooling novice, 
Eye Charity founding doctor / director. 
Reluctant domestic goddess 

Passionate about sashimi, 
helping people see 
physically and spiritually,   
and Jesus   


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Recent Posts

Food, glorious food!
September 4, 2015

About 15 thumb-sized caterpillars lie there in front of me, clustered in a bowl-shaped leaf. Picking one up, I observe its Riga Mortis body, coloured black but tipped with an amber head and tail. It is long dead, but in my mind’s eye its worm-like body is still writhing a little, trying to escape its inevitable fate. A few photos, and into my mouth it goes. Hard, dry and chewy, its flesh has been smoked to deter the millions of rainforest insects hoping to get a piece of the pie. It does not taste remarkably exotic, but the sensation of its little legs sweeping over the roof of my mouth is enough to remind me this isn’t your average chicken goujon.

I have made little effort to describe the food I have eaten here so far, so will dedicate this post to that. The diet shares few similarities with the regular Western diet; imports are too expensive for the average Impfondo citizen, so people still stick to a diet of bush meats, Cassava, and the various extraordinary fruit and vegetables hanging from the jungle canopy.

The first thing I tried here was the incredible tasting homemade peanut butter. It is rich and organic, beaten smooth with a pestle and mortar. The texture is slightly stickier and more awkward than Western stuff, but you know you are getting the real deal. The peanuts here are a little different, so the butter they make tends to take on a slightly darker brown than what you can buy from supermarkets back home. In the market it is sold not in jars, but is scooped from huge mounds sitting on metal trays.

A whole cocktail of fruit and vegetables are available. Papaya, Plantain and Guava have been a few of my favourites. The Sweet Potato is more white than orange and is closer to the taste and texture of regular potatoes, but has an indescribable uniqueness to it. I have developed a small obsession with fresh Sugar Cane, and have learnt from Henri how to cut it up properly. It is immensely sweet, crunchy and juicy, and the fibres of its flesh actually clean your teeth rather than rot them. I tried a miscellaneous forest fruit a few days ago. It tasted fantastic; a little like rhubarb, but its flesh was more like that of a very ripe strawberry.

I get the feeling that wheat is a relatively new thing to Congolese society, especially in Impfondo, but I might be wrong. The more traditional alternative is the Cassava root, ground up into flour. Its main uses are for making Fufu and Kwonga(?), two types of culinary vessels used for mopping up sauce. They have a gooey and jelly-like texture and I do not particularly like them, but they are clearly popular among the locals.

I try to eat as little meat as possible in England for environmental reasons, but I think vegetarianism is a non-existent concept in Africa. Anyway, the meat in Congo is not plucked from a mass farm; it is hunted in the forest. For that reason people have to be careful, because it is in this same rainforest where Ebola can be contracted. Bats are illegal to sell, since they pose a particularly high risk. Also illegal is the trading of chimpanzees and Gorillas, I assume for conservational reasons, but I am told that chimp meat is exceptional. Crocodile has a taste I found to be most similar to beef and is usually eaten as pieces within a stew-type dish. The catfish can grow to the size of a child and beyond, is meaty in texture, and is delicious fried. We are having it for lunch today. I am hungry.

Guest BLog By

Rowan Cassels-Brown
New SIght SUmmer Intern

Filed under: Food, Living in Congo


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