I know that it would have been a bit easier if I had picked a country like Morocco for my first African entry on this list, but sometimes you just strike it lucky with finding a recipe. Also, if this list is going to have any staying power then I cannot just cross off all the easy countries from the off… plus it’s just more fun this way.
So where do I start with some background on São Tomé and Príncipe. It’s the second smallest country in Africa and, like nearby Angola, is a former colony of Portugal. As such the cuisine takes elements of Portuguese and mixes it with the regional cuisine of this area of Africa. Since coffee and cocoa are major cash crops, these are flavours that crop up in a number of dishes alongside tropical fruits, vegetables, fish and protein. Sounds pretty ideal if you’re a big fan of coffee and chocolate.
So yes, I ended up going with a recipe for Chicken with Coffee Sauce that I found on Afro Tourism. When comparing the picture on their website to how mine turned out, I guess that we just make the coffee weaker in this house. Maybe when I next make this recipe I’ll go for more of an espresso than an americano… and, once again, double the sauce ingredients. You need plenty of it to really enjoy the dish.
I guess the surprising thing for me in this recipe was how well coffee worked as the base for a sauce with chicken. It works for chocolate in mole sauce, so I guess it stands to reason that the slight bitterness of coffee would find harmony in an almost barbecue sauce.
From here I can really see opportunities to play with the recipe and make this a regular fixture in my week night dinners – it’s just that simple to make and I can imagine that it would work well with similar vegetables to a satay sauce (i.e. pineapple, bell pepper and celery) and maybe try it with some pork instead. Truly, this was a success.
Now that I have crossed off a country from each continent it’s time for me to start hopping around to whatever cuisine takes my fancy. I’ll be back in Europe for the next edition of this list as I check in with the food of Belgium. As I don’t necessarily trust my ability to cook mussels without ending up with a case of food poisoning, I’m having to deviate from the more stereotypical moules-frites…. but I will, of course, be making waffles. It just wouldn’t be Belgium without waffles.