Friday, April 13, 2018, it was just 1:00 pm, when, in front of a crowd of customers, sitting around the tables in the restaurant “Chez Alice” located in Marcory in Abidjan, Mrs. Pauline Epélékou, Director of Inades-Formation Côte d’Ivoire took the floor.

She announced to those who were there for lunch that two new dishes were added to the daily menu: fonio couscous with chicken Yassa and Fonio au Gras.

It was actually a free fonio tasting session, organized by Inades-Formation Côte d’Ivoire to promote this ancestral African cereal.

                                                                     Fonio grains

For the record, fonio has long been cultivated by the people of northern Côte d’Ivoire, where ecological conditions are favourable to its growth and development. For centuries, the consumption of this cereal has been an integral part of the dietary habits of these populations who master its production and cooking techniques. Fonio is also consumed in other African countries, including neighbouring countries in northern Côte d’Ivoire.

Because of the difficult nature of its processing, the consumption of fonio is unknown to a large segment of the Ivorian population, particularly urban dwellers who have become accustomed to the consumption of other cereals such as rice, maize and millet.

Yet fonio is a cereal with many virtues, rich in mineral salts and amino acids. Resistant to climatic hazards, it can easily replace rice and thus limit massive imports. Fonio is classified by Inades-Formation as a sovereignty food and is part of the foodstuffs it promotes through its Sovereignty Food Enhancement Project.

                                            Tasters in front of their fonio with Yassa dish

Giving People the Opportunity to Know Fonio

The objective of the tasting session was to offer the public the opportunity to discover or rediscover the flavours of fonio and get them to include it in their menu.

Moreover, the fact that the tasting took place in a restaurant was not accidental. This choice was intended to attract restaurant owners so that by seeing the interest customers could have in fonio dishes, they could consider putting it on their menu card.

In addition to customers of the restaurant who agreed to taste the dishes, other people from state institutions related to agriculture and food as well as local partners, invited by Inades-Formation, took part in the tasting.

Fonio is Digestible and Delicious in the Opinion of the Guests

The guests carried the first spoonful of fonio dish to their lips, with slight gestures of hesitation for some and confidence for others.

After the first bite, the faces lit up immediately most of the time, pleasantly surprised by the good taste of the fonio. The appreciation did not take long to come. In their great majority, the tasters judged the fonio dish delicious and digestible.

They said they are ready to consume fonio regularly if it is available and accessible on the market.