Cape Verdean culture is a true mix of European and African; an assimilation engendered during the Portuguese occupation. Nowadays, the traces of 400 years of Portuguese influence can still be found in architecture, lifestyle and the arts, but elements of African culture, be it in music, literature or arts, are omnipresent too.
Traditional music is very popular on the islands and an important part of everyday life. Its roots are in Portugal, Brazil and Africa with three main types of music; Funana, Morna and Coladera. These differ not only in content, but also in rhythm and melody.
Mindelo, on Sao Vicente, is the centre of traditional music on the islands and there are some excellent bars there with live music playing regularly. For more modern music, Praia on Santiago is the place to go with Cape Verdean pop music playing on numerous stages.
Cesaria Evora, Cape Verde’s most famous musician, received the Grammy for World Music in 2004 and regularly tours in Europe.
For more information, see www.cesaria-evora.com
The Cape Verde coast is rich with fish and seafood of various kinds, so these naturally make up a large part of the island’s cuisine. Especially popular are tuna, swordfish, moray eel, cuttlefish, mussels and shrimp which are a delicacy fried with onions or steamed in garlic.
Fried potatoes and rice are the standard side dishes and a simple but popular main course on the islands is Cachupa, a mixture of corn and beans with fish or meat. Many traditional meals include vegetable soups as a starter and fresh fruit or caramel cream as a dessert.
Beer, wine and local spirits are widely available including the famous Grogue, a local sugar cane liquor often drunk with honey (Ponche) There are some excellent red and white wines being produced on the islands.