The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Papuan Food
Papua New Guinea has a unique blend of flavors and ingredients in its food. The five countries that have the most similar diets also have tropical climates and are located close to the equator. Two are located in Melanesia, while the other three are in Africa. All these countries are not especially well developed and many of their people still rely on subsistence farming.
- Vanuatu is another Melanesian country in the Pacific Ocean. Both countries utilize an array of tropical ingredients, including root crops like taro, yam, and sweet potato. They both traditionally wrap parcels of vegetables, starches, and meat in banana leaves, then steam them in a small pit filled with hot stones. Tuna and barramundi are two commonly eaten fishes in these island nations.
- Solomon Islands are a group of islands located just to the east of Papua New Guinea. Both countries enjoy dishes like kokoda, a marinated fish salad made with lime juice, coconut cream, and fresh vegetables. In addition, taro and sweet potato are staple ingredients. In addition, coconuts are a common ingredient in their meals.
- Gabon is in Africa, but it is another heavily forested country close to the equator that receives a lot of rainfall. The use of root vegetables, particularly taro and yams, is one significant similarity between their cuisines. In addition, bananas are by far the most commonly eaten fruit in both nations.
- São Tomé and Príncipe is yet another archipelago on this list, but it is located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Pacific. Both have an abundance of tropical fruits, such as bananas, papayas, and coconuts. In Sao Tome, dishes like calulu, a stew combining fish, leafy greens, and palm oil, resonate with the use of fresh seafood and local produce in Papua New Guinean cuisine.
- Ivory Coast also showcases culinary connections to Papua New Guinea through the use of yam and common as common ingredients. Both countries eat a lot of pelagic fish as well. However, people in Ivory Coast tend to eat more cassava than in Papua New Guinea. Since there are many Muslims in Ivory Coast, the country also eats less pork.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Papuan Food
All five countries with the least similar food to Papua New Guinea are landlocked. In addition, four of the five countries are located in Asia. These countries also have much drier climates than Papua New Guinea, so their agriculture is far different. With the exception of South Sudan, their climates tend to be significantly cooler on average as well.
- South Sudan is a country located in the middle of Africa. Cassava and sorghum are the staple foods in the country. Porridge is one of its most popular dishes. Unlike in Papua New Guinea, beef is the most commonly consumed meat in the South Sudan, while fruits like bananas and coconuts are not as widely consumed.
- Uzbekistan is a doubly-landlocked country in Central Asia. The country’s cuisine features a mix of traditional Uzbek and Russian dishes. Potatoes and wheat are two of the most commonly consumed starches in Uzbekistan, unlike in Papua New Guinea where sweet potatoes and rice are more prevalent.
- Tajikistan is a mountainous country in Central Asia. Like Uzbekistan, it was once part of the Soviet Union. Tajik cuisine features stews, dumplings, and bread, and the extensive use of lamb and beef, in stark contrast to Papua New Guinea. The Tajik people incorporate spices such as cumin, coriander, dill, and parsley, which are not as common in Papuan food.
- Mongolia has a cold, dry climate that makes it difficult to grow crops. As a result, the country relies on animal husbandry for a large portion of its food. Mongolians tend to eat much more meat from cattle, sheep, and goats than Papuans. They also eat more dairy products, especially yogurt.
- Azerbaijan borders the Caspian Sea, but it is still considered to be landlocked as well. The predominately Muslim country’s cuisine is heavy in the use of wheat, potatoes, and tomatoes. Furthermore, the most widely consumed fruits in Azerbaijan include watermelons, grapes, and apples, which are not as commonly eaten in Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Pelagic Fish, Pork
Fruit: Banana, Coconut
Vegetable: Onion, Peanut
Starch: Sweet Potato, Rice
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.