Monday, August 23, 2010


I've been blogging and blogging about Gabon (five posts away from an even hundred!) but I haven't really filled you in on a really essential part of living in a foreign country - the food. I've told you how to make faworki, pierogi and the like, but there were very few posts devoted specifically to African cuisine. I do not know how I could've neglected something as vital as la nourriture! I do hereby promise, however, to make up for this grave error, and I start right away by introducing the fruit/vegetable of the season, the ideal starter dish, the easiest thing to cook in the world... ladies and gentlemen: the atanga!

After my mini-research on the net, I concluded that the scientific name of the thing is Dacryodes edulis and it actually boasts six different English names, in addition to the French atanga. Our friend Dacryodes can, therefore, be referred to as african pear, african plum, bush butter, butter fruit tree, eben tree or simply native pear. I have seen it, I have tried it, and consequently I can assure you that the atanga is not a pear, nor is it a plum, and it tastes nothing like butter whatsoever. On the other hand, it's creamy, with a huge pit, and a completely undefinable taste. It's somewhere between avocado and olive maybe, savoury, for sure, not sweet.

Cooking a Dacryodes (now I have discovered the name I use it with relish) is the easiest procedure ever, which even I grasped after only one explanation. You simply boil them until they become completely soft, and you serve them with a bit of salt. You eat them with your hands, dipping them in salt - or not, your call. They are wonderful as a starter, and simply perfect if you are surprised by unexpected guests (I can think of no simpler dish).

So if you ever see the little purple Monsieur Dacryodes in a European supermarket, don't hesitate to buy it. A Central African experience guaranteed!

PS. Five posts away from 100! Any ideas on how I should celebrate?

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