Food & Daily life

City vs. rural life

High rise building in Ivory CoastAbidjan and Yamoussoukro are the main cities of Ivory Coast. They have a modern and cosmopolitan feel, with multi-lane highways and high-rise buildings.

Both cities boast spectacular cathedrals. The one in Yamoussoukro – see Map – is a full-size replica of St Peter’s in Rome. Impressive mosques (some built in traditional mud) are also to be found in major centres to the north.

Market produce

Most places have regular open-air markets. Local staples sold here include yams, maize, cassava, millet, sorghum and peanuts.

Across the smaller towns and villages of Ivory Coast, buildings are usually modest. Houses are traditionally made of reeds, poles and sun-baked clay, with thatch roofs. New housing is mostly built using modern materials with corrugated iron sheets for roofing.

Though many Ivorians grow crops for selling, they also plant a range of foods for their own consumption and often keep livestock such as chickens.

Local cuisine

Some cities along the coast have a cosmopolitan feel, with sizeable French, Lebanese and Syrian communities offering a range of international cuisine.

Eating like a local

Though tourists are offered cutlery, Ivorians eat with their fingers, washing their hands in basins.

Restaurants serving traditional food (known as maquis) operate from open air courtyards.

Popular local dishes include kedjenou (chicken with braised vegetables), attieke (cassava ground into couscous-like grains and eaten with fish or meat) and specialities such as pan-fried frog’s legs.

Dessert is typically fruit, since a wide range are grown in Ivory Coast, including mangos, mandarins, pomegranates, passion fruit, bananas, pineapple and coconuts.

Street food

And to drink?

Ivorians often quench their thirst with ginger beer or locally-brewed beer. Another popular drink is palm wine.

A popular snack is aloko, fried banana served with onions and chillies. Other street food includes yam fries, fried fish and fufu (or foufou) made from fermented and mashed vegetables such as cassava and plantain.

As well as being eaten as a snack, peanuts are used in a variety of ways. Foods are cooked in peanut oil (rather than butter), giving meat and fish a distinctive flavour. And since meat and fish are often served with a sauce, peanuts ground with chillies and tomato make a common spicy accompaniment.

A man frying fish