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from: Central Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering

Moambé Stew

Moambé (or Mwambé) is a traditional African stew from the Congo river area. The moambé sauce is made from the fruit and oil of the African oil palm (Elaesis guineensis) which is used in many African dishes. Moambé stew can be made with beef, chicken, fish, mutton, or any wild game meat such as crocodile or venison. If peanut butter is used, the dish is transformed into Muamba Nsusu.

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Filippo Pigafetta

A Palm from which Oil, Wine, Vinegar, Fruits, and Bread are all Extracted

The Relazione del reame di Congo, based on writings of Duarte Lopez, was written by Filippo Pigafetta in 1591. It contains this description of palm-tree products, including palm-oil and palm-wine, in the Congo kingdom. This English translation comes from Report of the Kingdom of Congo and of the Surrounding Countries Drawn Out of the Writings of the Portuguese Duarte Lopez (translated by Margatite Hutchinson; London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, originally published 1881, re-published 1970).

[a species of] palm . . . grows here, from which oil, wine, vinegar, fruits, and bread are all extracted.

Oil is made from the pulp of the fruit, which is the color and substance of butter, but of a greenish hue; and this oil the people burn. It also serves as butter, and to annoint the body.

They press the oil from the fruits in the same way as it is got from the olive, and they preserve it by boiling.

Bread is made from the kernal of the said fruit, which is like an almond, but harder, and within it is the marrow, good for food, wholesome and nutritious. This fruit, together with the pulp, is entirely green, and is eaten either in that state or cooked.

Wine is found in a hollow at the top of the tree, where it forms a sort of trough, and from it is distilled a liquor resembling milk, which for a few days is sweet, then becomes acid, and in process of time bitter, and is used with salad. When drunk fresh it acts medicinally, and, in consequence, the people of those countries do not suffer from gravel or stone [kidney-stones]. It causes intoxification to any who drink too freely of it, but is otherwise very nutritious.


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