In 1983, I “followed to join” my husband in Burkina Faso, then known as Haute or Upper Volta. It was my first time in Africa and everything was so exciting; babies on the back, trays balanced on heads, village chiefs in full regalia, open markets and street food. In those days, to be young, American and in Africa was a true adventure. My husband had been a Peace Corps Volunteer back in the 70s, so things weren’t so new to him but I was fascinated by everything! It’s too bad that I hadn’t met Roger http://www.rogerstowell.com/ before this, who gave me the gift and love of food photography. I would have had some awesome photos. Oh well, better late than never.
Ouagadougou, Upper Volta’s capitol, resembled an isolated U.S. town that you saw in old western movies, one dusty, unpaved main street with everything lined up on each side; hotels (don’t think fabulous), restaurants, little grocery and hardware stores, etc. I loved it! Some clever, Voltaique entrepreneur had the idea to bring commercial chicken rotisseries to Ouagadougou and these technical innovations were also lined up on the main street, attended by gangs of little boys and adults who watched for hours, fascinated by the browning and tenderizing of local chickens. Thus the name, “television chicken”, christened by the disadvantaged population who could not afford a television and took there amusement where they could find it. And there I stood, watching them, watching the chicken. Talk about easily amused :D
In addition to the chicken, the owners would line the bottoms of the rotisseries with several pounds of slice onions that caramelized as the chickens were cooking. When you received your chicken, wrapped in a piece of cement bag, you also got a heaping serving of the onions. So good and I guess different, because here in France, you get a recycled jelly jar of chicken fat from the bottom of the rotisserie.
So why am I talking about this? Well, yesterday it was 103 degrees. I hate that! Any restaurant worth attending was closed for the month of August and I couldn’t face making anything, be it salad or sandwich. Jade remembered the traiteur next to the market who sells fresh, roasted chickens from a rotisserie. Bravo Jade! We went over and bought one and on the way back home, stopped at the Parrets to get some tomatoes. They have a beautiful garden with tons of tomatoes, lettuce and beans. One thing led to another and we all decided to eat together in the summer kitchen, sharing the chicken and some garden produce from their yard and that of their son’s, Olivier. Good decision.
Now if this had been an impromptu American Sunday lunch, we would have just thrown together a salad, sliced the chicken and chowed down. Not at all Chez Parret! You would have thought, after many years of exposure to me, the Parrets’ American, they would have loosened up a bit. After all, think of the temperature 103F and 39C!
Anyway, we began with a good sliced salami with a Rose Cremant for appertif. Followed by a garden fresh salad of tomatoes and onions.
Olivier had some gorgeous diced zucchini from his garden and I quick sauteed them with garlic, salt and pepper and added a sprinkle of parsley.
M. Parret sliced the warm chicken in, I thought, a whimsical, French manner. It was still good. We had a red with this but after the first bottle of wine, I start to lose focus, so I don’t know what it was but it was good :)
Of course, there was cheese and he had a particularly good Comte. We all had seconds, continuing with the red.
In deference to the hot weather, finally, desert was a sweet and juicy melon.
There was coffee, to which M. Parret insisted on adding a shot of French white lightening in each cup. And that’s why I’m submitting this post today, Monday, instead of yesterday.
The wonderful thing about real people is, unlike food, they don’t just sit there; they laugh, joke and converse. When I go to the Parrets for lunch, I need a designated photographer to capture these excellent moments. By the way, I like his shirt. My husband needs one :)