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Côte d'Ivoire - Cooking and Food
Overview of Ivoirian Cuisine History
Ivory Coast or Côte d'Ivoire, is one of the biggest cocoa producers from all over the world. Côte d'Ivoire was the pride of the French colonial power. Ivory Coast is located in West Africa, on the southern coast, exporting cocoa, palm oil and coffee. Almost every house from Ivory Coast has the basic kitchen equipment such as wooden pestles, mallets for grinding, ovens and all the other necessary cooking equipment. The Ivorian food is prepared in big calabashes. The dishes are also washed in the calabashes and the cassava is pounded there. The calabashes are used in universal purposes in Ivory Coast. After the meals are prepared, the Ivorian people are doing their laundry or even bathing their children in these multi purpose calabashes. “Maquis” is the name for the Ivorian traditional restaurants, in which Chicken, called “kedjenou” is served or a cassava couscous with fish or meat called “attieke”. Flag is the traditional Ivorian brew beer which is very popular especially because water isn’t potable. Before any meal, Ivorian people are washing their hands in large basins and they usually eat with their hands. Cutlery is used only in restaurants and hotels. "Garbat” is the name for the Ivorian student restaurants or canteens. When cooking with oil, the same oil is used for several times and changed only when it becomes very dark. Cutlery or plates aren’t used in canteens; everyone is eating from a common plate. The Ivorian Coast Chicken, called “Kedjenou” is prepared with vegetables and has a unique and delicious taste since the chickens there are lean and very low in fats. The Ivorian Coast cuisine contains hundreds of delicious recipes for fish dishes made of Tuna meat, sardines, bonito or shrimps. “Boule Shrimp fried in butter” is an excellent typically Ivorian dish which is flambéed with whiskey and served with a delicious cream sauce. The Pan Fried Frog’s Legs are prepared with garlic and fresh parsley leaves and the “Capitane” fish cooked “en papillote” with lemons, tomatoes, onions and seasonings is totally amazing.
The traditional cuisine in Côte d'Ivoire is based on grains, tubers, Chicken, fish, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables and flavored spices. There are small, open air traditional restaurants in Ivory Coast called “Maquis” where people are serving typical Ivorian dishes, such as the braised Chicken and fish with onions, tomatoes and spices, served with “Attiéké” or with “Kedjenou”. The grated cassava, called “Attiéké” is a very popular side dish. “Kedjenou” is a Chicken dish prepared with fresh vegetables and cream sauce. The Ivorian “Aloco” is a delicious snack made of bananas, palm oil, steamed onions, chili and is usually served with grilled fish. “Bangui” is a popular palm wine. Fresh fruits such as mangos, mandarins, pomegranates, sour sops, passion fruit or coconuts are the main ingredients in preparing delicious light desserts, but can be served also as an aperitif. For example a green mango cut into cubes or small slices with some salt on it or a coconut cooked in the oven are delicious Ivorian snacks. Plain or sugared peanuts are nibbled before the main meals of the day. The Ivory Coast is the largest producer of cocoa beans from all over the world. Bananas are served in the Ivorian style plain or with a palm seeds sauce. The cassava and the plantains are very important elements of the Ivory Coast diet. The Ivorian “Aitiu” paste is made of corn and is the main ingredient in preparing corn balls. The peanuts are essential ingredients for several Ivorian Coast dishes, soups and first courses usually.
Special Equipment for Ivoirian Cooking
Although the preparation methods for Ivoirian dishes do not require the purchase of any special equipment, it helps if you have a good set of non-stick pots and pans that allow the easy cooking for different dishes. One of the things that you should have, in case you plan to do a lot of Ivoirian style cooking, is a spice box, where you should store a wide array of specific spices and use them to add flavor and enhance the visual aspect of all meals. Most Ivoirian dishes don’t require you to purchase any special tools. However, having a coffee grinder helps with roasting and grinding spices and maximizes their volatile oils, which, in turn, provides your food with more flavor.
Ivoirian Food Traditions and Festivals
The yam festival is one of the most popular food and traditions festivals in Ivory Coast. The yam festival is a moment of joy and happiness celebrated by the Ivorian people year after year. The yam festival celebrates the finish line of a copious food producing crop. The yam festival is solemnized in February in the western region of Ivory Coast, in July in the northern region, in August in Sikensi, which is located in the south. The preparation method for the yams goes like this: the yams are cleaned and sliced. Some oil is placed in a pot in which two onions are sauté. Next, the tomato paste and some water are added. The yams, salt, pepper and hot chilies are also added. All these ingredients are let simmer for about twenty minutes until the yams change a bit their color and are cooked. The yams are served with rice or with fish, seafood or Chicken. “Fetes des Masques”, which in translation means Festival of Masks, is a famous festival in Côte d'Ivoire celebrated in November. In January there is a festival in Grabo, in the southwest of Ivory Coast, during which the Ivorian people are celebrating the rice harvest. There is a corn festival in July which takes place at Yezimala.
People in Ivoirian Food
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Ivoirian chefs are passionate about their traditional dishes and they enjoy presenting them to foreigners who have never tasted them before. Ranging from the traditional simple and fast cooking dishes and going through the more elaborate dishes, Ivoirian food is a never-ending source of pleasant surprises. Many women chefs have mastered the art of Ivoirian cooking and for many of them this is turning into a career. However, most women are excellent chefs and they provide their families with healthy and delicious Persian dishes.