The most important tip I can give you on Burkina Faso local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Burkina Faso, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in
Any run-of-the-mill Burkinabé restaurant will most certainly have one or all of the following: Riz Gras = Rice cooked in flavored stock, often with onion. Sometimes served with extra sauce on top, but not a given. Somtimes served with a chunk of meat, or fish. it is a very small-grain rice, very similar to couscous, and prepared in a likewise manner Riz Sauce or Riz Tomate = Pretty self-explanatory.
White rice usually served with a tomato or peanut sauce. Tô = a millet or corn flour based jello-like dish served with a sauce. Sauces commonly are okra-based (fr. “sauce gumbo” – tends to be on the viscous-side), peanut-based (fr. “sauce arachide”), baobab-leaf-based (not bad tasting, but very slimy), or sorrel-based (fr. “oseille”, another green-leaf, a little sour). You eat this dish by breaking off some tô with a spoon (or, if you want to go local and your hands are washed, use your finger – just remember to use always the right hand, as the left hand is considered “unclean” because it is used for bathroom purposes) and dipping it into the sauce.
Difficult to eat for a non-local as it tastes sour and slimy. Definitely an an acquired taste. FuFu = a pizza-dough-like ball of starch served with a sauce. Made by pounding boiled ignames (sort of a super-sized version of a yucca-potato hybrid). The sauce is usually tomato-based. Eaten in the same manner as tô. Ragout d’Igname = boiled igname in a tomato sauce. Spaghetti = Usually spaghetti is served au gras as opposed to spaghetti sauce.
Haricots verts = Green-beans, usually from a can, with tomato sauce Petits pois = Green peas, usually from a can, with tomato sauce Soupe = usually chicken (fr. “poulet”), guinea fowl (fr. “pintade”) or fish (fr. “poisson”) Salade = a salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion with a mayonnaise-based dressing (mayo, vinegar, salt, pepper) A Burkina speciality is “Poulet Telévisé” aka televised chicken, or roast chicken, since many locals say if you watch the roaster it is like watching TV! Snacks: Beignets = (mooré samsa) fried bean flour Fried ignames, patate douce (sweet potato french fries) Alloco = Bbq’d plantains Brochettes = bbq’d meat sticks, or liver, or tripe, or intestines Porc au four = baked greasy pork bits served with hot sauce (fr. “piment”), salt, and if you are lucky, mustard. Best enjoyed with a Flag beer (to make “champagne”, add some tonic) Gateau = fried dough. Comes in all sorts of varieties, best when fresh.
What to Drink in Burkina Faso
Bisap = hibiscus leaf cold sweet tea, sometimes enhanced with mint and/or ginger (25-50 CFA) Yamoku, or Gingembre = sweet ginger drink (25-50 CFA) Toédo, or Pain de singe = sweet and “smoothie-like” in texture. Made from baobab fruit. Yoghurt = sweet dégué = yoghurt mixed with millet balls, sometimes couscous. Dolo = millet beer. Brakina = national Burkina beer, decent and light. Beaufort = a suprior beer also made in Burkina.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.