Saturday, 4 September 2010

Burkina Faso Top 5: Part 1 - Food

As some may know, I love a top 5 (except with Bealtes songs – it is impossible to have a top 5 so don’t even try to tell me you have one). For the next few posts, I’ll give you a few top5s of Burkina Faso and hopefully it will show just what I really like about this country. There is very little not to.

Today’s topic. Food.

Missing out on the top5 is this plate of caterpillars served with a helping of rice. They tasted of wood.

5) Ragout et pommes de terre. Its meat. Its potatoes. Could almost be in Yorkshire. What more do you want?

4) Yaourt et sucre. As I said in my last post – this is a delicious desert after a huge lunch. More like a shot of sugar.

3) Chicken and chips. If you’re Western and don’t fancy dipping your toe into the luke warm bath of West African cuisine, I’m guessing you’ve ordered ‘Poulet et des frites’. Its usually covered in oil but this is the best thing about it. Naughty but nice.

2) Riz et sauce. Burkina’s favourite. The legend Seydou’s favourite. With ‘sauce tomat’ or ‘sauce feuille’ (quite nutty that one). At 80pence in one of the countless Madamme’s restaurants – a steal. And the portions are huge!

1) Advocat sandwich for breakfast. My favourite Burkina Faso dish for my favourite meal. Sound strange? It did to me at first but since I discovered this delightful little stand near work run by the evergreen Dauda, it has become my staple meal to get me pumped up for another day in Burkina Faso. It has got to the stage when Dauda doesn’t even ask me what I want. I’ve watched him make it so much, here’s the recipe.

• 1 advocat

• 1 small tomato

• 1 small onion

• Loads of oil

• More than a pinch of salt

• A fresh baguette.

Take the advocat and remove the stone. Scoop out the inside and chop up in a warm pan. Finely chop an onion and a tomato and mix in with the advocat. Throw as much oil as you can into the pan (Dauda doesn’t use Tesco’s finest I’m guessing?) and a fairly kind helpful of salt. Mix together and spoon into a baguette. Serve with a ‘voila’.

Just don’t order Cafe au Lait with your sandwich. Dauda serves his coffee in a bowl with a spoon.

Friday, 3 September 2010

He ironed my boxer shorts.....

He ironed my boxer shorts. There are three possible reasons for this:

a) He thought it is what us white folk do.

b) He was in a really good mood.

c) Its how Burkina men roll. Pressed.

Anyway, after two weeks of wearing the same trousers (I was considering a trip to the local hospital for some surgical removal) and coming scarily close to that ‘inside-out’ tactic, the guy at the local laundry has quickly risen up my ‘favourite people’ chart.

If only I could say the same about some of the shop assistants and waitresses in Burkina Faso. It is an irony I can’t get my head around. The Burkinabe have to be the cheeriest and most pleasant people on the planet. There isn’t a five minutes which goes by when someone doesn’t say, “Bonne arrive”, “Bon app├ętit”, “Ca va bien”. Regardless of wealth or status – everyone is the same. It makes you feel good about yourself and is my favourite thing about Burkina Faso. So when you go to get some food or buy some soap, someone definitely switched off the ‘happy tap’. An example. Today, Antoine drove me to the local bus station to check out the times of the buses for my weekend adventure (to be revealed). Anyway, minor details. On the way back, we stopped off at a typical ‘grocery store’ for Antoine’s weekly shop. As we were leaving, I realised I wanted a ‘Yaourt de sucre’. This little packet of sugary yoghurt has become a firm favourite following a recommendation from a friend. So, as I approach the counter, the man with the frown told me to go the adjacent counter. A normal request, if only the woman behind that counter wasn’t a sleep. “Well, can’t you serve me?”, “No, she will serve you”, “But she’s asleep?!” ......shrug of the shoulders. She awakes at this point and gives me a stare the Wicked Witch of the West (Africa) would shudder at. “Je suis desolee madamme pour reveiller” (bad French for Sorry to disturb your sleep). What am I doing?! I’m apologising for buying a yoghurt and waking her up at 2 in the afternoon! Its the same at the local cafes/restaurants. Sometimes you’d think that instead of asking for ‘Riz Sauce’, I asked, could I punch your mum.

So the Burkinabe. Nicest people on Earth – except in Tesco!