Until recently, African culinary traditions have been off the radar of all but the most adventurous eaters in other parts of the world. So, it is not surprising that most folks have never heard of Ivory Coast’s staple food–attiéké.
Attiéké is Ivory Coast’s unique style of couscous, made from fermented manioc. It is still an artisanal product, made in the villages surrounding Abidjan by women of various local ethnic groups (Ebrié, Adjoukrou, Alladian, Avikam, Ahizi). Many of these women also cultivate the manioc from which attiéké is made.
In Abidjan, Attiéké is served everywhere, with just about everything–from grilled chicken to smoked fish–and is seriously addictive. As a result, attiéké is eaten by everyone, regardless of region or nation of origin. It is sold pre-steamed in the local markets in portion-sized bags for 100 CFA (about 20 US cents), making attiéké an affordable and filling staple food.
Although attiéké is still a unique, local product, it is now widely available at African markets in Europe and the US, where it is sold in either frozen or dehydrated form. It is easily steamed with a bit of water in the microwave and enjoyed–preferably with a delicious kedjenou (the Ivorian national dish) or Poulet Braisé.
So, next time you feel like trying something different, head down to your local African market and buy some attiéké. Your dining companions are sure to thank you and you will be supporting Ivory Coast’s female entrepreneurs.