Cuisine of São Tomé and Príncipe

Cuisine of São Tomé and Príncipe

A marketplace in São Tomé, the country's capital, serves as a venue for local fishermen and farmers
A close-up map of São Tomé and Príncipe

Santomean cuisine comprises the cuisine, dishes and foods of São Tomé and Príncipe, a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. The country consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located about 140 kilometres (87 mi) apart and about 250 and 225 kilometres (155 and 140 mi), respectively, off the northwestern coast of Gabon.

Domestic food-crop production is inadequate to meet local consumption, so the country imports much of its food.[1] In 1997 it was estimated that 90 percent of the country's food needs are met through imports.[1] Furthermore, the country is not self-sufficient in meat and food grain production,[1] and is reliant upon imports of these foods. In 2003 it was estimated that 8.33% of the country's total land is arable.[2]

Primary food crops include bananas, breadfruit, taro, maize, beans, papaya, palm oil, and primary agricultural production crops for export include cocoa, copra and coffee.[1][3] Fish and seafood is prominent in São Tomése and Príncipe cuisine, and the fishing industry there contributes approximately 25 percent to the country's gross domestic product.[1][4] Poultry is also raised in São Tomé and Príncipe.[1] The nation's cuisine has been influenced and shaped by African and Portuguese settlers.[5]

Common foods and dishes

Staple foods include fish, seafood, beans, maize and cooked banana.[4][6] Tropical fruits such as pineapple, avocado and bananas are a significant component of the cuisine.[4] The use of hot spices is prominent in São Tomése cuisine.[4] Coffee is utilized in various dishes as a spice or seasoning.[4] Breakfast dishes are often reheated leftovers from the previous evening's meal.[6]

  • Arroz doce is a traditional breakfast food prepared with sweet corn and coconut.[6]
  • Banana pap is a porridge[5]
  • Barriga de peixe is a traditional Santomean dish of grilled fish served with rice, breadfruit or manioc (cassava).[6]
  • Blablá [6]
  • Broa (corn roll) [6]
  • Chicken
  • Chicken with coffee sauce is prepared with chicken, coffee, white wine, cream, garlic, coffee beans and spices.[4]
  • Cachupa is a dish prepared with green beans, broad beans and corn.[6]
  • Calulu is a traditional dish prepared with grouper or smoked fish, prawns, tomato, okra, aubergines (eggplant), onion, and spices, including grains of paradise.[4][6] Some versions of the dish may include or use smoked chicken, breadfruit, óssame (a red, bulbous fruit) or bananas.[6] It takes around five hours for traditional calulu to be prepared.[6]
  • Coconut
  • Djogo [6]
  • Flying fish, both cooked and dried varieties[6]
  • Jackfruit [6]
  • Mango [6]
  • Omelettes [6]
  • Boiled pork is a dish prepared with pork, tomato, spinach, onion, garlic and spices.[4]


Alcoholic beverages

  • Aquardente is a distilled beverage prepared from sugar cane.[6]
  • Nacional is the country's national beer.[6] Other beers, such as Super Bock and Sagres lager are imported from Portugal.[6] Criollo is another brand of beer produced in the country.[6]
  • Gravana rum is prepared from sugar cane.[6]
  • Palm wine is considered a national drink of São Tomé and Príncipe.[6]
  • Ponche is a cocktail prepared with honey and Aquardente.[6]
  • Wines, typically imported from Portugal[6]

Street foods

Cooked corn on the cob. Street vendors in São Tomé and Príncipe sometimes offer grilled corn on the cob.[6]

Street foods include stews, safú (a fruit) and corn on the cob.[6]


Estufa de morcego is a bat stew delicacy that is served on saints days and during fiestas.[6]

Desserts and sweets

Snack foods

  • Banana seca is a dried, whole banana that has a smoky flavor.[6]
  • Bobofrito is a specialty of Príncipe that consists of bananas fried in coconut oil.[6]
  • Bread rolls with Portuguese salami and sausages[5]
  • Fios is a snack food prepared with corn flour and bananas.[6]
  • Gigumba (peanut brittle) [6]
  • Palla-palla are crisps prepared with cocoyam or banana.[6]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Agricultural Marketing Directory for U.S. & Africa Trade - Mary E. Lassanyi, Wayne Olson. p. 206.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Sao Tomé and Príncipe - Recent Economic Developments and Selected Issues (EPub) - International Monetary Fund. p. 70.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i The Recipes of Africa - Dyfed Lloyd Evans. pp. 174-176.
  5. ^ a b c d São Tomé. Foodspring. Accessed February 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an Sao Tome and Principe - Kathleen Becker. pp. 74-79.

Further reading

  • Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe: Request for a Three-Year Arrangement Under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility. International Monetary Fund. pp. 4–5.

External links