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|Culture of the Central African Republic|
Central African cuisine includes the cuisines, cooking traditions, practices, ingredients and foods of the Central African Republic (CAR). Indigenous agriculture in the country includes millet, sorgum, banana, yam, okra, yellow onion, garlic, spinach, rice and palm oil. Imported crops of American origin include maize, manioc (cassava), peanuts, chili peppers, sweet potato and tomato. Additional foods include onions, garlic, chiles and peanuts.
Meat can be scarce in the Central African Republic, although fish is used in a variety of dishes, and other sources of protein include peanuts and insects such as cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets and termites. Common meats in Central African cuisine include chicken and goat. Wild game is also hunted, especially in rural areas and during the grass burning dry-season. Staple foods include starches, such as millet, rice, sesame and sorghum. A variety of vegetables and sauces are also consumed.
Roadside stalls sell foods such as baked goods and makara (a type of fried bread), sandwiches, barbecued meat and snacks. In the forests and in markets of Bangui where forest items are sold, caterpillars and the koko leaf are eaten. Restaurants are mostly for expatriates. Wild tubers, leaves, and mushrooms are used. Palm oil is widely used in various dishes.
The capital city of Bangui has western foods and hotel restaurants. The legal drinking age is 18. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol. The PK5 area is known for its smaller restaurants serving with reasonably priced traditional dishes served.
Bangui is the capital of the Central African Republic, and the staple diet of the people there includes cassava, rice, squash, pumpkins and plantains (served with a sauce) and grilled meat. Okra or gombo is a popular vegetable. Peanuts and peanut butter are widely used. Game is popular, as are the fish-based dishes such as maboké. Manioc flour is used for preparing fufu.
There are three types of restaurants in Bangui. Some focus on foreign cuisine, such as Relais des Chasses, La Tentation and L'Escale, which are orientated towards French food, and Ali Baba and Beyrouth, which serve Lebanese cuisine. There are a large number of African restaurants, such as the Madame M'boka, a favorite of the locals. A number of bars and street food stalls complement Bangui's culinary scene.
Alcoholic beverages served are locally brewed beer, palm wine and banana wine. Non-alcoholic beverages that are drunk include ginger beer. Village ecologique Boali en RCA in Boali is known for its local dishes.
CAR's potential agricultural output can feed the entire population; however, four coups have occurred during the last decade which has significantly reduced agriculture and food production. These political and economic crises have caused significant food shortages due to the burning of agricultural fields, food storage areas and villages by armed groups.
France once colonized what is now the country of Central African Republic as part French Equatorial Africa, and French influences are present in the nation's cuisine, including French bread and wine. During the 19th century Arab slave traders brought Middle Eastern influences. Earlier in its history it was then part of empires like Kanem-Bornu and Dafour based around Lake Chad, and its cuisine is similar to that of surrounding countries. Today the population is mostly Christian with Muslims in a majority in the north.