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  • The Anonymous Hungry Hippopotamus

Côte d'Ivoire Part 1: Abidjan

Updated: Apr 1

Côte d'Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast, is a country located in West Africa. The country gets its name from the ivory trade that took place on its stretch of gorgeous, coastline between the 15th and 17th centuries.

The official language in Côte d'Ivoire is French, and its capital, Abidjan, is the third largest French speaking city in the world. Care to guess what the first is? You may be surprised to find out that it is not in France.


Unlike my usual trips, the purpose of my visit to Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, was not tourism. Rather, it was to see my family, who welcomed me into their home (pictured above and below) with open arms.


To say that I was showered with kind-heartedness and hospitality does not suffice. Maybe the following pictures will convey a little bit of the love I experienced.


Breakfast

Orange Carrot Juice

There was not a single morning that began without fresh squeezed juice. The varieties were endless: orange carrot (above), watermelon pineapple, cucumber papaya etc.


Blanched Walnut, Almond and Fresh Date

The morning also started with a fresh date and a few blanched nuts.


Pineapple and Papaya

And then there was the fresh fruit. I could have filled up on that alone, but I learned on my first morning, that there was still much to come.


Cheese Dosa

There was cheese dosa (savory Indian rice and gram crepe) with homemade coconut and chili chutney, one morning ...


Masala Dosa

... and dosa stuffed with spicy potatoes on another.


Upma

Upma, which is a savory, semolina porridge, was also served for breakfast, accompanied by a spicy, mint chutney.


Lunch

Sev Puri

Lunch refused to be outdone by breakfast, as you can see in the picture above. This was one of my favorite dishes during my trip. Sev puri is a type of chaat, or snack, that hails from Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is made with small, round, deep-fried puris, topped with diced potatoes, cilantro, onion, chili-mint and tamarind chutneys and then topped with sev, which are thin, crispy, strands of gram flour.


Daal

There was also daal (lentil soup) ...


Masala Rice and Cabbage

... that was served with savory rice and stir fried cabbage.


Bitter Melon

And then there was one of my personal favorites: bitter melon. Bitter melon can be a controversial dish; you either love it or hate it. If you are a fan of bitter flavors, you should try it. Bitter melon has different varieties and is commonly served in both Chinese and Indian cuisine. If you haven't experienced it, give it a try. It is always fun to expand your palate.



Roti

The bitter melon, as well as many of the other dishes, was accompanied by roti, a flatbread from which you tear a chunk, gather up all the other ingredients within, and enjoy.


When the eating at home was paused, my family took me to eat out at some exceptional places like Marrouche. Marrouche is a Lebanese restaurant in Abidjan that serves the best Lebanese food I have ever tasted.


Pickled Cucumbers, Cabbage, Garlic Sauce, Spicy Sauce and Tomatoes and Onions


Hummus

I took this pictures before we drizzled olive oil in the well, in the center of the hummus. This was some of the creamiest, most flavorful hummus I've tasted.


Salad

The salad was exceptionally fresh and laden with bright flavors of lemon, sumac, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes and then topped with fried pita chips for crunch.


Lebanese Pizza

This pizza was made on a soft pita with crispy edges. There was cheese on one half and Za'atar, a culinary herb mixed with toasted sesame seeds, oil, sumac, and other spices, on the other.


Mutton Kabobs with Pita and Fries

These lamb kabobs were so tender, juicy and flavorful, that even thinking about them makes my mouth water.


I don't remember the name of this dessert, but it was a vanilla panna cotta, infused with rose syrup and topped with pistachios. Incredibly delicious.


Des Gâteau du Pain

And speaking of desserts, my family also took me here, to des Gâteau du Pain, ...


Strawberry Tarte

... where I had a tarte so delectable, I gobbled the entire thing up in minutes.


Holi

Though I didn't intentionally plan it this way, I was fortunate enough to be with my family in Côte d'Ivoire for Holi, and was able to celebrate with them.


Holi is an Indian holiday that celebrates Spring, and with it, new beginnings. To commemorate the new season, celebration participants throw colored powder into the air, and onto one another, to signify a vibrant, new start.


And like almost every Indian celebration, flavorful food, made with layered spices and fresh ingredients, is involved.


Papad and Potato Chips

There were fried goodies such as waffle-cut, potato chips and papadum, a large, savory, deep-fried, crunchy, chip made of gram flour.


Potato Curry

The potatoes in this dish were stewed in a savory, cream and masala-based curry.


Ker Sangri Ka Dahi Walla Sabhi

And then there was this Rajasthani curry which I had never eaten before. It was made with ker (berries) and sangri (beans) that were then combined with spices and a yogurt-based sauce. The result was a very inviting dish that is usually reserved for special occasions.


Lastly, these beautifully packaged, chocolate and almond desserts were presented to guests.

Enticing smells wafted throughout the house all evening. At long last, every dish prepared with great care and skill was ready, and dinner was served. While this dinner was served on the special occasion of Holi, I must say, that every single day with my family in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, began and ended like this -- with food, family, conversation, laughter, love, thankfulness, gratitude ...


... and two adorable pups lounging nearby. I feel very fortunate.

I hope you'll stay with me for my next post, when I visit a stunning beach in Côte d'Ivoire.

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