Rain or shine, it is always a pleasure going to the beach in the southeast region of Côte d’Ivoire. On either side of the main city, Abidjan, there are kilometers and kilometers of beaches. If you travel east, towards Ghana, you run into Bassam, Moossou, Assinie, and Climbié. These seaside towns have some of the best restaurants in Cote d’Ivoire. If you are in a hurry, dozens of restaurants lie among the coconut trees in Bassam, and their scouts will try to wave you into their parking lot. They all offer the standard beach-side dishes: poulet braisé, chicken marinated in a mix of spices and grilled on huge open-air charcoal grills; poisson braisé, fresh fish done a similar way; alloco, gorgeously fried plantains; attieke, the cassava couscous ubiquitous in that country, and French fries.
Here is the menu that I recommend if you stop at one of those seaside restaurants.
This dish is a revelation. Not all restaurants offer it, but those that do make it very well. The avocado is already wonderful by itself, deep green outside, light green inside, firm yet soft enough that you might think chewing is unnecessary. It is stuffed with a mixture of shrimp in a sauce whose composition varies, but which always includes (don’t gasp), mayonnaise, ketchup, and a garnish of parsley. Rain or shine that’s true, but it is always hot! So this cold dish is a very nice introduction to the meal.
The entrée dishes are the “braisés” so typical of this region of Cote d’Ivoire. Fish and chicken mostly, covered with a rainbow of sliced tomatoes, onions, and sometimes green chili pepper. Alloco, French fries, and attieke are like the three musketeers accompanying the dish. One for all and all for one, you can have them all or pick your favorite as a side dish. You can order alloco if you want a slight sweet taste, attieke for a tangy one, and French fries, for a… well… fried and salty taste.
Beverages and Dessert
Fresh juices (pineapple, passion fruit, and orange) or sodas usually complete the meal. There is not a big dessert tradition, as the entrées tend to be very filling, and at the end of meals, fresh fruits are often offered. So now, it’s on to napping on the beach if the sun is out, and if it is not, the trip was still well worth it, as nothing beats fresh air, an ocean view, and flavorful food.
How about you? What is your favorite beach side meal? Which African beach do you think offer the most mouth-watering dishes? Would love to hear your thoughts!
Linda Dempah co-founded and writes for Tropical Foodies, a blog dedicated to dishes using tropical ingredients. She is living a passionate, lifelong love story with plantains and is sharing her enthusiasm for all the other tropical ingredients on her blog. Follow her on Twitter and “like” the blog on Facebook.