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Fungee and Pepperpot – Antigua and Barbuda National Dish – Day 11/Dish 6

January 17, 2010

It is time to make our first foray into the “New World”.  Perhaps some of Angola’s unfortunate lost sons and daughters made the westward voyage to the Caribbean Islands of Antigua and Barbuda to live out their days as slaves.  Antigua was first colonized by the Spanish by none other than Christopher Columbus, the so-called “Father of the Americas”.  Its current name comes from Columbus’ choice of Santa Maria De La Antigua after a famous church back home in Spain.  He landed here on his second voyage in 1493.

The native people of many of the Caribbean islands suffered at the hands of European settlers, dying by the millions as a result of abuse, disease and malnutrition possibly brought on by enforced low protein slavery diets.  Historians believe that the Arawak people, who mostly left Antigua and Barbuda around 1100, were the first to introduce agriculture to the Islands.  Among the crops they grew were, tobacco, sugar cane, corn, sweet potatoes, guavas and the Antiguan “Black” Pineapple bringing these items north from the South American mainland when they migrated to the islands. 

The British claimed the islands in the early 1600’s and it briefly fell into the hands of the French in the late 1600’s before returning to British rule.   Slavery, both of native people and children of Africa helped sustain the economy here until slavery was outlawed in 1834. 

This troubled history has left these islands a rich cultural heritage with diverse influences.

The national dish of Antigua and Barbuda is Fungee and Pepperpot.   I first thought I would be eating a stew of Mushrooms and Spicy Peppers.  Although this sounded very interesting, I soon discovered that I would not be eating mushrooms after all, or many peppers for that matter. 

Fungee is a breadball or patty similar to polenta.  Made entirely of corn meal, it has no mushrooms at all.  Pepperpot is a meat and spinach stew.  One thing to note is the similarity between this and other African stews.  For example, Okra is used in many dishes from Western Africa.  Research shows that many dishes including meat use meat that is heavily preserved in salt and includes scraps for flavor.  This use of inexpensive and long-lasting (without the aid of refrigeration) cuts of meat provided protein without the risk of spoilage and with relatively low costs.  This can most likely be traced to roots in the slave populations of the region.  These same aspects are repeated in recipes found wherever Slavery and African Slaves existed. 

Stews in general are often the result of the “use what you have” school of culinary thought.  In most cases a healthy mix of protein and starch and vegetables provides a balanced diet that will stick to the bones and provide nourishment throughout a day in servitude or hard labor.  If cleaned properly, the scraps of butchery can make a great meat addition to stew at low cost.  A side benefit is the complex and often delicious flavors of stews in general.

Since this meal is in two parts, I have divided the reviews and ratings to go with each component dish. 

First we have the Fungee.  I give this a 2 for difficulty primarily because you will get a good forearm workout while stirring and smoothing the corn meal.  Otherwise it is very simple to make.  It should be noted that a tool similar to a small cricket bat is the recommended stirring device.  I bought a cricket bat shaped heavy wooden spoon for $2.00 and it worked well.  The Fungee is similar to the rice found in many Caribbean Dishes.  It fills the role of a simple starch element to provide filler and to soak up the gravy of the dish.  I found it plain and boring overall.  Not terribly exciting stuff, but certainly edible.  It had a texture like polenta or grits or porridge but more dense.


Fungee Rating:

Appearance: 2 out of 5

Aroma: 2 out of 5

Flavor: 2 out of 5

Total: 6 out of 15


2 cups Corn Meal

3 cups Water

Salt to taste

3 Okra Pods (Sliced)

2 Tablespoons of butter


Bring salted water to boil with the Okra until it is cooked (approximately 3-4 minutes).

Remove 2 cups of water to a separate pan and reserve.

Add the cornmeal to the remaining 1 cup boiling water.

Leaving the pan on the stove and using a wooden spoon(the cricket bat device), mix the corn meal and crush to the side of the pan to remove lumps.  It will become very thick and porridge like.  Keep smashing lumps and stirring. Add water from the reserved 2 cups when necessary eventually using it all.

When the mixture begins to leave the bottom of the pan, remove from the fire.  Approximate cooking time of 5-8 minutes.

Place butter in a small bowl, place a spoonful of fungee in the bowl and roll to a ball (1-2” in diameter).   The rolling will coat the ball in butter.

Serve hot.

Fungee can be left overnight. Sliced and dried and used with syrup or jam for breakfast.

Next is the Pepperpot.  This is a great addition to the fungee.  Without it I would never order fungee.  The Pepperpot is a delicious stew with lots of spinach and meat and can be made in various ways.  I used several recipes as reference and decided on the easier one since certain ingredients including eddo leaves and papaw are not available locally.  I also left the squashes and eggplant out.  I give this recipe a 3 for difficulty since it involves some lengthy prep and 2 hrs cook time.

Pepperpot Rating:

Appearance: 3 out of 5

Aroma: 4 out of 5

Flavor: 4 out of 5

Total:  11 out of 15


 ½ Lb Country Ham Trimmings sliced(sold in small bundles next to the country ham)

2 lbs Pork Stew Meat

2 Large Onions – sliced to rings

2 Pounds Spinach (Wash in a cleaned sink with 2 tbsp salt and 2 tbsp vinegar in 4 gallons of water soaking for 45 mins to disinfect)

10 Medium Okra Pods sliced or chopped ½ inch thick

4 Cups Broth (Chicken or Beef)

1 Medium Habanero Pepper chopped

3 Cloves Garlic roughly chopped

Salt And Pepper — to taste

2 Teaspoons Fresh Thyme

2 tbsp vegetable oil


Make sure the spinach has been cleaned according to the directions above.

 In stew pot, heat oil to medium high and brown Ham and Onions. Remove to a plate.

Season the Stew Pork pieces with salt and pepper.  Add to pot and cook until lightly browned on all sides.

Add Thyme, Garlic and Habanero and stir briskly into meat.  Add Ham and Onions back to pot and stir well.  Allow to cook for an additional minute. 

Add Okra to the pot.

Add Broth to the pot.  Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.

Add Spinach ½ at a time.  It will be a very large volume at first, but will rapidly wilt as you stir it into the pot until it is a fraction of its original volume.  Add second half of spinach and stir till under the liquid. 

Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow it to cook for 2 hours.  At this time the Pork will be very tender and the flavors will have developed. 

Add additional herbs to provide additional flavor. 

Serve hot.

Add Ginger Beer with or without a good Rum for authentic local flavor…

Serves 6-8 

 Foundation Recipe:


2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2012 5:23 pm



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