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Saturday morning at the garbadrome, travel plans, customers that have had too much to drink

buying garba in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

Despite living in a restaurant, I do try to eat out every now and again. And sometimes eating out means going to the garbadrome.

Garba is the all purpose, fill-you-up, working class meal of Abidjan. The standard portion costs 50-60 cents and consists of attieke (granulated fermented casava. Looks a bit like couscous, and it tastes much better than it sounds), a hunk of fried fish, some sliced chili papers, a bit of oil, and some salt or cube maggi. More extravagant garbadromes may offer chopped tomato and onion with your order.

The most popular garbadrome in our area is run by two Nigerien guys. You can hear them arguing in Hausa long before you reach the stand. I don’t know how these two guys got tied up in the commerce of fish and attieke – the staples of southern Cote d’Ivoire – but their story is one of many in the world of immigrant entrepreneurs in Cote d’Ivoire’s informal economy.

Eating garba is not something pour faire plaisir. It is utilitarian. And it works. If you are looking at a day of hard labor, you won’t find a better breakfast. Calories, protein, some heat to get your blood flowing. I’ve never been disappointed, anyway.

Travel plans and miscellaneous

I have some yet-to-be-booked trips coming up. One will be to the states to see family and friends. It has been over a year since I was last at home. My planned itinerary is Boston – NYC – DC – Cleveland. Thoughts?

There is another something in the works. You may be able to join me and a friend on a trip through West Africa later this year. Details on that to come.

What else? I think I’ll have to get in a visit to Lisbon at some point in order to drink some rum with my Cape Verdean grandmother. Hopefully TAP Portugal will hang on to their West Africa itineraries so I can do this.

The restaurant chugs along. We have some new ideas we are working on to expand the client base. Our return customers continue to provide the bulk of our business. We have some folks that we see on a daily basis. Most of them are great company.

We had our first incident with an inebriated customer the other day. When he first walked in, there was no evidence that he was hammered. His friend ordered him a plate of riz-sauce, bien pimenté, and a salad. He got through about half of his meal and then went to the bathroom. After a period of 15 minutes or so, his friend went searching. He came to us shortly afterwards and said that he could not locate his friend.

We found him in the staff room. He had taken his pants off, turned on the fan, and passed out in the bed. His friend tried to wake him up. No luck. He woke up when we poured water on his head. He pinballed around the room for a bit, slapping his friend a few times and almost destroying an armoire. His friend got whacked a couple more times when he tried to put his pants on.

Once out of the staff room, he managed to lock himself in the bathroom. He stayed there for another 40 minutes or so and then came out without his pants. This was a problem for us. It may have been a bigger problem for him, but at the time he was not concerned. His friend was able to corral him into his car at this point.

Most of our customers are well behaved, though. At some point, I will talk about the older gentleman that sings along to Nicki Minaj whenever Trace Urban is on the TV.

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Benjamin May 9, 2014, 9:28 am

    Hilarious story about the drunk guy. did he have his tie on his head? SO much better that he took his pants off. Updates on travel plans hombre??

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