A couple of weeks ago, I gave my neighbor some money to help him buy a dog for the New Year's Feté. To eat. Apparently dog is something of a treat for the Konkumba. Whenever I go to the marché with Kodjo, he always hits up a dog vendor. This consists of him fishing around in a big pot of stewed meat for a suitable chunk, giving me one, and drinking a bowl of the broth after he has finished. Dog is a bit like beef, only maybe stringier and more . . . bitter? One dead animal is just like another when you are craving protein.
Togolese cuisine, for the most part, revolves around two staple dishes. Pate and fufu. Each of these, in their final form, look like a lump of dough. Pate is made from either corn, sorgham, or rice, and possibly millet, although the former is most common. Basically, you boil cornmeal until its a mush, then you eat the hardened mush. It can also be used for glue and to patch tires. Fufu is, for the Konkumba, boiled yams that have been pounded until they are the consistancy of mashed potatoes. In the south, the Evé, for example, use manioc instead of yams for fufu. The Konkumba scoff at manioc. These dishes are eaten with a variety of sauces, many of which include meat or fish. I, personally, love rice pate with peanut sauce. Corn pate with ocra, or edame, sauce makes me want to hurl. Fufu with any variety of pepper/tomato sauces is great. The trick to eating fufu, by the way, is to make sure you get your (right) hand wet first. Otherwise it sticks to your fingers.
Rice, beans, spaghetti, and, to a lesser extent, couscous, are all popular here. One of my favorite things is beans with this pepper sauce sprinkled with gari-- crushed and dried millet. Soja, or tofu, is popular in the marchés and with street vendors. It always makes my day when I find some. Fried in oil and soaked in pepper sauce . . . so good. Its not usually avaliable in village though. My staple diet, that my host mom feeds me at least twice a day, is beans and rice with a bit of tomato/pepper sauce. One of the good things that the French left in Togo is a legacy of good bread that is sold about everywhere . . . except in village. Fresh fruits and vegetables are, especially here in the north, marché day buys. You can also get them from street vendors in bigger towns. I have this one lady that I buy oranges from whenever I go to Guerin-Kouka to get my mail.
--what I said up there about couscous isn't totally true. I taught my host sister how to make it the other day.
Kodjo was really happy about finding, and subsequantly braining, this huge lizard that he found the other day. As near as I can tell, the meat menu in Nampoch goes something like this-- goat, chicken, sheep, guinea fowl, pork, dog, fish, lizard, cow, and random birds that kids shoot with slingshots. I haven't had the guts to ask if they eat cats around here yet.
PS. A couple more points about dog. 1. "Butchering" one involves a machete and flying bits. 2. Apparently only men can eat it. 3. Get a chunk with bone through it. That way you can be sure it is mostly muscle . . .