"Reinforced concrete" - "Africa in Danger" - We must do away with our g-astronomic cooking complex !

A Today you will quickly notice that our newsletter has undergone a change of style . I would like to offer you a taste of The Fool of the daily paper LE PAYS of March 11th. Its writing style is different from ours, but you will see that the subject is one we have often taken up here. We even produced a film on the topic of local food:"Africa in Danger".

Poor Burkinabè cuisine! As if it weren't enough to despise our own food in favour of menus from abroad, my fellow countrymen tend to come up with some really despicable names. The famous "tô" is so disdained that some seem to think it is putting "Africa in Danger" , and go so far as to call the delicious and nutrient dishes of "kansa", "souma", "benga" and "gonré" (1) "reinforced concrete grub", no less!!

We must put a stop to this! It is time for us to show respect and consideration for our local cuisine. Your child is still your child, even if he is as thick-headed as a drunken pig. And by the way, our food is not so bad as to deserve all this scorn! The "kazanga" is really delicious and the "chitoumou" (2) of Bobo Dioulasso is very rich.

It is not our Ministry of Health that will contradict this, after its numerous publications on the nutritional benefits of our local food.Our neighbours from Ivory Coast are happy to eat "benga", when they come to visit us. Do you think any one of them would make a disgusted face if you whispered "garba" (grain sauce) into their ear? Or have you ever had a Moroccan say "safouroulayi" in front of a dish of couscous? I am sure you haven't! Please note this: We do not have to go to Rabat or Abidjan for their food, it is available here in Burkina, right under our noses. But our own food, who knows anything about it in Morocco, Senegal or Somalia? Here in Burkina you can certainly find restaurants offering "Specialities of Senegal". But when you travel, have you ever regularly come across a restaurant abroad advertising "babenda", "sagabo" or any other of our national dishes? If there are any , they are definitely not many.

All this is, I am sure, due to our inferiority complex with regard to our national gastronomy. I feel certain that many of my Burkinabè fellow citizens are ashamed to confess that they have "benga" or "souma" for lunch. Decidedly, I could hardly imagine a Burkinabè taking a visiting Canadian friend for a meal at "Tantie Bonne Soupe", a street kitchen on the Boulevard Charles de Gaulle in Ouagadougou, to taste some of its cuisine. Neither am I sure that someone in high office in our country would serve "gonré", when inviting powerful môgô chiefs.

If we do not appreciate our own food, how can we sell it to people of other countries? It is precisely because of our being ashamed of the food we make, that we do not create an environment that would value it better. Fair enough, we have competitions and festivals, where local menus are given a prominent place. But this is too limited to special circumstances and restricted circles. Do we have any great chefs of hotels and restaurants in Burkina who put local dishes on their menus? I do not believe that many have given it a thought. Nevertheless, some of these culinary strongmen should start pampering, caring for and enhancing our country's specialities to achieve a breakthrough. We must fight for our food in the way we have already succeeded with our beverages.Today you will find ""bissap" and "yamacoudji" drinks in the big hotels and at big receptions. Our intellectuals must stop "spitting in or on our soup" (if you will excuse the expression). They should help add value to our food. To start with, let us like what we eat. Let us be proud. And then, let us improve the design and presentation of our "eatery" and when a foreigner turns up, let us give her or him a taste of our "babenda" or our "kansa". Still not with me? What I am trying to say is : let us get rid of our inferiority complex, let us consume Burkinabè, for "chitoumou's" sake!

Le Fou (The Fool)

(1) "kansa", "souma", "benga" et "gonré" : pancakes of bean flour, sweet peas, boiled beans and pastry made with bean flour

(2) Kanzaga, chitoumou : respectively dish based on wood sorrel sauce, name of an edible species of caterpillar.

Articles from the daily paper LE PAYS of Friday, March 11th 2011, where you also will find a number of comments, often much to the point !


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