Cape Verde Food & Drink

The national dish, “catchupa”, is a stew of hominy and beans with fish or meat. It means home to Capeverdeans everywhere
Food of Cape Verde basically comprises fish and shell fish preparations. Local specialities include cachupa—a fish and bean stew. Cape Verde’s cuisine is Portuguese inspired and most of the food is transported in through shipping

Catchupa is a slow boiled stew of hominy corn, beans, vegetables, spices and marinated pork or tuna. It is often described as the staple food of the Cape Verde Islands. At any given moment an inventory of the ingredients in a kettle of catchupa may even be a pretty good index of the economic health of family in Cabo Verde. What’s in the catchupa might depend more on whether someone in the household has a reliable job and can afford to supply the kitchen from the village market place or store. Most Capeverdeans who reside in the countryside maintain gardens to grow a little mandioca, beans and perhaps some greens to fatten a pig for their catchupa. If it’s to be a wedding or other very special occasion, folks somehow manage to get together and make sure that the kettle overflows with sausage, marinated meats, and vegetables. We call this a “Catchupa Rica”.

Cooking catchupa from dry ingredients may require as much as four hours over a slow but steady flame. Years of drought have made firewood scarce. Locally produced charcoal is seldom in adequate supply. In rural area, women and children spend many hours each day gathering firewood (lenha). Despite government subsidies to make bottled gas easily available to all the cost to many poor families is prohibitive. Gradually the effects of drought and its continuing impact on agricultural production and the availability of affordable fuel have combined to transform the culinary tradition of Cape Verde. Catchupa rica has become expensive in Cape Verde Islands and something a family can only hope to serve on special occasions. Years ago imported rice was served on these special occasions. “Canja de galinha”, the thick chicken and rice soup is one such dish, and is still served for weddings, funerals or First Night celebration or perhaps to nurse a sick relative to health. Today rice which cooks under twenty minutes is fast replacing corn as the staple of Cape Verde.

Wine is made on Fogo Island, known as Manecome. Aguardiente (sugar cane rum) is another national drink. A liquor made from coffee, cinnamon, fig leaf, peppermint, orange or lime is very popular in San Antao.