With a population of just 676,000 - making it the 166th biggest country in the world, Equatorial Guinea actually has the 29th highest GDP per capita due to recently discovered oil reserves boosting its economy. Sadly, like most countries, the majority of the money lies in the hands of just a few.
Given the size of the country, I was unsurprised to learn that they sent just two competitors to the main London 2012 event (they left empty-handed) and they didn't field any athletes at the Paralympics.
So on to the foodie bit. The detail from Wikipedia is as small as the country and gave me little help at all. It did indicate that meat is very prevalent - specifically game, chicken and bush meat. Knowing that I was unlikely to be able to source chimpanzee from Ocado, I went with fish. Next problem, recipes are few and far between but eventually I happened across one for Pick a Pepper Stew which is basically fish cooked with peppers and herbs and served with rice. Simple.
Well you'd think. The recipe called for snapper but after a lot of effort by the fishmonger at my local Morrisons, they were unable to source any and recommended Tilapia instead. I collected said fish yesterday afternoon and although it was gutted and descaled, I was left to my own devices to fillet the fish. I should never have let the thought of 'how hard can filleting a fish be?' float through my head.
I've always had a bit of a fear of fish with their eyes in ever since my mother terrorised me with a dead trout when I was a child. And then I owned a psychotic goldfish that kept jumping out of its bowl onto the kitchen floor. I'm sure this is why I have a phobia of swimming in the sea. I really don't like fish. Seriously. Unless they're battered with chips; in a fish finger sandwich; or in a meuniere sauce.
Tilapia must have the measliest amount of flesh to bone ratio of any fish ever. Seriously, it's like a goldfish on steroids. I managed to scrape two two-inch square bits of fish from it and was left with a massive fishy carcass, which I'm sure would make some fabulous fish stock if I didn't live in a house where the chief resident complains of any non-Captain Birds Eye fish smells.
So I ended up having to think on my feet and with a lack of bananas, I made Chef Jeena's onion bhajis. Fast forward to today and rather than doing the fish thing again with different fish, I settled on making African Banana Coconut Bake. It's about the only dessert I can find with any reference to Equatorial Guinea. The other choice was something containing raspberries and bread which sounds suspiciously like bread pudding. At least this is vaguely exotic with its citrus fruits and coconut.
It's a really simple and scalable dish. I made it just for me so rather than baking it in a dish, I just wrapped it all up in foil, a bit like a Cornish pasty, and baked it for ten minutes. The sauce was amazing - although it made the coconut soggier than I would've liked. Definitely one for the barbecue if we ever have sunny weather again.
And that is definitely the end of my Olympic Food Challenge contribution. I only hope we finally hit the 204 mark on Sunday. I'd like to say a mahoosive thanks to the team Coach - Ewan Mitchell - for letting me join his 'games'.