Aya de Yopougon by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie

Set in 1970s Abidjan, capital of Ivory Coast, often referred to as the “Paris of West Africa”, the book is about the story of the youngsters Aya and her friends. I loved how I got a glimpse of daily life and culture in such place. There are very few graphic novels set in “exotic” places that I know of. The illustration of Aya is alive and vibrant, the book gently humorous. Great read.

4 stars
2006, 132pp

First line
1978 was the year that Ivory Coast, my beautiful country, got to see its first television ad campaign.

Award
Winner of the best first book at the International Comics Festival, Angouleme, 2006

At the end of the book there are some tidbits of information with pictures about their piece of clothing (e.g. pagne (pa-nye) is a piece of brightly colored, wax-printed cloth. Every pattern has a meaning so you need to watch what you wear.), drink (Gnamankoudji, known as ginger juice), and there’s even a recipe! I would really like to try making their African peanut sauce (which is more like stew). A lot of Indonesian food has peanut or peanut sauce, so it’ll be interesting to try this one.

Peanut Sauce recipe

2 lbs beef (or 1 free range chicken)
4 large tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
2 large onions
1/4 lb jar of unsweetened peanut butter
1 hot pepper
salt
2 maggi cubes

Trim and cube the meat. Dice 1 onion. Brown the meat and onion in a heavy pot, add a bit of salt, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
When all liquid has evaporated, add 4 tomatoes, cut into quarters, the second onion, cut in half, and a can of tomato paste.
After 10 mins, add water to cover the meat. Stir in the peanut butter, a pinch of salt and the hot pepper (don’t slice or crush – the pepper is meant to perfume the sauce). Remove the pepper after a while (serve it separately for people who like their food spicy), cover and simmer for half an hour.
After the 30 mins, remove the tomatoes and onions, blend them in a food processor and return to the sauce. Add a maggi cube. Top off with enough water to barely cover the meat. Place a lid on the pot and simmer for another 30 mins.
When a film of oil appears on the surface of your sauce it’s done.
Skim off the oil if you like and season to taste. Add the second maggi cube. Your sauce should be rich and flavorful. Serve with rice.

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