Côte d’Ivoire has a similar cuisine to many of the other West African counties, given that these countries have somewhat artificial boundaries put in place during colonisation rather than based on tribal lands, and many of the tribes in Côte d’Ivoire can also be found in other West African countries.
I knew Côte d’Ivoire produced cocoa but has no idea it produced around a third of all the cocoa in the world! I remember a video doing the rounds on social media a few years about of some workers on a cocoa plantation who worked for very little money and had no idea what the cocoa beans were used for. A visitor took them some processed chocolate to try and they were amazed. It highlights the importance to look for the Fair Trade logo when choosing chocolate.
For my Ivorian meal, I avoided the typical West African peanut curry having done it for a few other countries, and settled upon grilled fish with sides. One of the side dishes I chose was Alloco which is plantains fried in palm oil, spiced with onion, chilli and sometimes tomato. It’s often sold as a street food and can be eaten on its own or with an egg, or is sometimes a side dish. The plantains are sliced, salted and fried in palm oil or groundnut oil until golden. They are then mixed with fried onion, tomato and chilli. I had to cheat and use green bananas instead of plantain as I just couldn’t get any in Northwich and forgot to get them last time we were in Chester. They were pretty good; I don’t think I’d have guessed they were bananas if I didn’t know.
I chose to do an Ivorian grilled fish for the main course; traditionally Nile Perch or another native species but I had to substitute this with whatever out local fish monger, Dilworths, had in. I got one silver bream and one sea bass to try out.
I marinaded the fish in lemon juice, salt and pepper, nutmeg, anise seeds, ginger, paprika, onion and chicken stock cube all afternoon.
The fish was then grilled in the kamado oven outside for 15 minutes while I cooked the rice and banana. All in all it was a decent meal; I don’t think West African food is ever going to be my favourite but it definitely tasted authentic. My house now smells of an African fishing village.
Next stop, Croatia!