We recently attended the end-of-the-year gala for the local college’s African Student Association, which was a delightful banquet full of delicious dishes from all around Africa: jollof rice, moi moi, plantains, injera, beef tibs, samosas and more. However, there were no African desserts. That got us to thinking – what would be a good African dessert to add in the future? That’s when we first heard about Thiakry (aka Dégué) – a sweet couscous-like dish with origins in West Africa. Both titles refer to the millet grain used in the dish itself, which is called Thiakry in Senegal, or Dégué in the rest of West Africa. The grain used in Thiakry can be millet or if that is not available, wheat, which is then mixed with dairy, dried fruit, vanilla and spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. The final texture is similar to rice pudding. You can check out the following recipes for varieties of Degue/Thiakry: Yummy Medley, Food World, and Salwa Petersen. You can buy Degue/Millet in most African markets, or in various shops online. This is a dish that is open to experimentation and customization – so you can add pretty much anything you want – as in this modern take on the recipe from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (seen below).
In a few minutes, Les Éléphants will square off against Colombia in Group C, with a win by either team sending them to the knockout stage. In Abidjan, and likely across all of Côte d’Ivoire, Ivorians will watch the game at one of the city’s countless maquis: a small, open-air restaurant that serves as a go-to meeting place for locals. Developed in Ghana around the 1950s, the maquis is now an indelible part of the Ivorian cultural landscape. Anyone visiting Abidjan will find maquis packed not only with locals, but with some of the best home-made offerings of Ivorian cuisine. Maquis can also be found throughout West Africa, from Mali to Burkina Faso, as well as further afield wherever Ivorians have gone – you can find them in Geneva and Paris. Indie Travel Podcast provides a great breakdown of the history of the maquis, the range of Ivorian classics on offer, maquis eating etiquette, and some suggestions for the best maquis to try while in Abidjan. Based on their recommendations, we would definitely hit up Poulet aves les doigts (“Chicken with the Fingers”, a maquis in Abidjan’s Treichville district serving up mouth-watering chicken and alloco, a classic Ivorian snack of fried plantains served with chili peppers and onions. Maybe Côte d’Ivoire and Colombia can swap plantain preparations recipes after the game?
Market in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire: via Loisperris
Here at ETW, we like to keep our readers happy. And being the nerdy academics we are, we also like to keep track of our blog stats, and the data say we get a lot of traffic for our writings about Mexican moles, French macarons, and Caribbean cuisine.
But we were surprised to find we are one of the top hits on the internet for “Côte d’Ivoire Cuisine” and “Côte d’Ivoire Food.” While we are pleased that Ivorian and Ivorian cuisine enthusiasts love us, we feel we have disappointed you, as our only post on the subject is a review for a now-defunct restaurant.
On top of that, Chicago’s only Ivorian restaurant – the apparently once-excellent and delightfully authentic Au Maquis on west Howard Street – closed some years ago and has since been replaced by a Dunkin’ Donuts.
So what to do? We want you to know how much we love West African food and African Cuisine on this blog, and if you want it, you are going to get it. We’ll check out more recipes from Côte d’Ivoire and its neighboring regions, do some solid exploring to find the best West African cuisine in Chicago and on the rest of our travels, and continue to spread the word of one of the world’s great culinary traditions. It’s what we do.