Liberian food is the native food of Liberia, Africa, which showcases a strong influence of the American culinary culture besides the traditional African cooking styles. The staple food of the Liberians is rice, which is commonly eaten twice a day in most households across the region.
Liberian Food: Historical and Cultural Influences
Liberia has roughly sixteen ethnic minorities and this led to a whole range of foods and cooking styles. The state was also dominated for 150 years by American-born Liberians resulting in a large western influence on the food and the culture. Traditional recipes were a curious mix of local African foods that have been adapted into the South American cooking styles. Liberia was colonized by the Americans in the early 19th century and African-American slaves bought back their local recipes from the US that were re-adapted in Africa.
Liberian Food Recipes: Common Ingredients
Rice forms a predominant part of every meal in Liberia. Local rice or foreign rice called "passava" is usually accompanied by rich stews of meat, shellfish, chicken and beans. Local ingredients that are commonly used include fufu, a fermented cassava dumpling that is served with stews in lieu of rice. Vegetables are added to every meat dish and fresh greens are a very important aspect of every meal. Greens like bittergreen, cassava leaf, potato leves, and vegetables like scotch bonnets, tapioca, addoes, sweet potatoes, green bananas, cabbage, eggplant, okra, and fresh ginger are commonly used. Palm butter or palm oil is the preferred oil that is used in the state.
Popular Liberian Food Recipes
- Liberians are extremely fond of desserts and some popular ones include coconut pie, sweet-potato pie, and pumpkin pie.
- Liberian rice bread prepared with rice dough and mashed banana is popular too.
- Beef internal soup is a popular dish that is prepared with stew beef pieces and tripe. The meat is cooked in tomato gravy and garnished with pepper and chillies. Salted fish is added last and served with rice.
- Jollof rice is rice cooked with chicken or salted pork trotters. It can also be cooked with vegetable oil, palm oil, mixed vegetables and a mix of meats.
- Monrovian collards and cabbage is a dish cooked using collard greens, bacon and red pepper.
- Other dishes like fried green plantains, stewed mangoes with cloves, torborgi, palava sauce with rice, and goat soup are also very popular.
Liberian Dining Etiquettes
Traditionally, all the courses of a Liberian meal are served together. Plates are kept inverted on the table and each diner turn up their own dish just before eating.
Liberian Food: Trivia
Before a communal meal, the diners shake the middle finger of other guests as a welcome ritual. This tradition came from the slave owners who used to break middle fingers of slaves to signify ownership. The handshake signifies Liberia’s freedom from slavery.