Restaurants

Today’s post:

  1. Nestle research facility
  2. Public transportation
  3. Restaurants
  4. Link to video from church

Well, we went to the Nestle research facility here in hopes of seeing the packaging plant and them saying, ‘Hey, yeah, we’d love to host a group of students! Go science!” and then expounding on that with some nice details. But while they were very much “Go science and science education and we really need people specializing in packaging,” they were also, “If I showed you, I’d have to kill you.” *
I do love visiting these places regardless, though, because it always shows that industries aren’t completely heartless and cold. They make decisions based on tests of consumer habits and preference, yes, but they do try to source local ingredients and stuff. And they’re at the very least staffed with people who actually do give a crap about things like education and the local population.
As we left, I noted the red-haired man in the hallway. You don’t see that much.

Later this year there is a sort of sport event with the Francophone countries in Abidjan, so they’ve been ‘trying to quickly fix the roads.’ This + rainy season = traffic. It’s not like what you seen on the news about China traffic, though, where you’re stuck in a parking lot for hours. It moves eventually.
Our bus there decided it would like to avoid the traffic, so it started to take a shortcut. Then the driver heard that the police were stopping people, so he made a turn backwards and we got back on course.
The way back was actually worse, because just as we got stuck in traffic our bus (one of the big ones, mind you) broke down and we decided to change buses instead of waiting for an hour for a replacement. They guy who lived in the US made a comment about how bad public transit was, which confuses me given I’ve never lived in a place in the US with reliable public transit. Nope, Abidjan still beats the US for that one.

The most exciting thing that happened was that  we ducked into a restaurant in Abidjan for agouti, and it wound up being completely different from anything I’d been in so far. The rest seemed unimpressed, so  How do people find these places? It seemed a more well-established restaurant, given the large amount of people, high-ish prices, cutlery**, and takeout orders. It’s rare to find a place that does takeout.
The front of the building was a crumbly wall. No signs that I noticed. Behind the wall was a line of giant pots of food and grills– they take  gas tanks and set the grills on top– with women stirring the pots and scooping out food for customers. This is very similar to Ecuadorian lunches. They tell you what’s on the menu, and you order from that, and get your food in under 10 minutes. The difference between this and fast-food in the US is that typical African food is a ball of gelatinized starch with a sauce over top, so it only improves with long simmering times.
The area housing the ladies with the pots is a rectangular area surrounded by several houses, as is the layout here. Or rather, I assume they are houses, because of the laundry strung all over the tin roofing. The roofs extend in this one so that it’s mostly sheltered from the rain and sun. What space is not taken by the ladies at the pots is taken by as many plastic tables and chairs as they can shove, plus the water bucket to wash your hands before the meal. You seat yourself, asking one of the women to put a tablecloth on as necessary. An unsmiling woman will approach you and tell you the menu, and you choose. Not so much with the pleasantries in my experience; you’re here to eat, they’re here to sell food. Business. Might be different depending on the situation.

Agouti and placali web
Left: agouti, right: placali. Agouti tastes to me like halfway between ham and pork. I’m not fond of how they leave the skin in, but the meat itself is good. Placali is another variety of fermented cassava. It is slightly tangy is has a feel a bit like Turkish Delight. Love it. In the back is fufu. And I’ve just now realized why they write it ‘foufou’ here.
Restaurant table
Other people ordered oxtail soup (left) and fish (right) Enter a caption
IMG_20170707_121453 (2)
The entrance is to the right. The girl there is waiting for takeout. The big brown bucket is where people wash their hands.
IMG_20170707_120040 (2)
The wall lining the street, along which all the pots are lined up. The entrance to the restaurant is on the left. If you look closely to the right you’ll see the handle of a pestle for one of the giant mortars they use to cook with, making everything from sauces to fufu to placali. The white container is bleach, used ubiquitously here for every cleaning purpose.

Traditionally (they tell me and I’ve observed) you use your hand to mix the sauce with the starch until it’s a moist ball that you can easily eat. However, it seems a lot now use cutlery and multiple ways of eating that don’t even get a second glance. Also, nobody stared at me, which was nice. Yay Abidjan!

By the way, the two faculty who tagged along are Ivorian by birth (one has lived in the States for the past 10 years), and yet I know public transportation and weather preparation better than either of them. So.

 

Click here for a link to clip of church from the Father’s Day service. It will give you an idea of the mannerisms used during speech here, especially among the young men. It’s zoomed out a lot, because I haven’t figure out how to crop video nicely for free.


*One of those statements is an actual direct quote.

**Traditional African eating does not use utensils, and few of the students use them when they eat. I don’t know how many restaurants do vs don’t use them.

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