Frozen Picard conquering African cuisines – Jeune Afrique

Recently, the Picard Surgelés company, in collaboration with chef Anto Cocagne, launched new meals on the market: DG chicken, chicken mafé, chicken yassa and banana mandazi.

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[Série] Mafé, couscous, tieboudiène… These dishes are the pride of Africa

If the French frozen food retail group wants to conquer a potentially lucrative market, there is a desire among Africans to promote their food and culinary riches. What is so special about these ready meals from Africa?

national flag

Appearing in the early 1980s in Yaoundé, Cameroon, DG chicken is an urban dish consisting of slices of fried plantains and fried chicken, all lightly simmered in a sauce made from carrots, green beans, onions, tomatoes, peppers (often green, red and yellow like the national flag) and local spices such as djangsang, pèbè, hiomi and essèssè.

If many know that the acronym DG stands for general manager, very few know the exact circumstances that led to the creation Of this specialty. In Cameroon, between 1975 and 1984, the late Dakolé Daïssala was general manager of the Cameroon Urban Transport Company (Sotuc). For the lunch break he usually goes to a restaurant where he has his own culinary habits: fried chicken and fried bananas.

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The sauce of leaves, by the Franco-Beninese chef Lionel Chauvel-Maga

Finding these fried foods a little too dry for his taste, the general manager then asks the cook to prepare a moistening, which he will make with local vegetables and spices. Every time the general manager ordered his favorite dish, the service asked for a “Chicken DG” from the kitchens! This is how the new recipe spread, quickly becoming a high-society dish, only to become more popular around the 2000s.

Portuguese influences

Peanut sauce is undoubtedly the most common sauce south of the Sahara. It is also known among almost all peoples where it differs however according to the culinary techniques used and the ingredients used. For example, it is called nfiang owondo among the Ewondo in Cameroon, azidéssi among the Ewe in Togo or even home among the Mandingo in Gambia.

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Harouna Sow and the universal power of gastronomy

We may not know it, but Portuguese influences run through African cuisines. At the same time as the slave trade, the Portuguese brought food items such as cassava, corn and peanuts from South America. the maafewhose main ingredient is roasted peanut paste, probably dates back to this period.

Mafe. ©AdobeStock

First of all, you should know this maafé means, among other things, “meat or fish added to a sauce” in Mandinka, a language spoken in Mali, but also among its neighbors: for example, in Pulaar, peanut sauce is said precisely maafé tiga. The gastronomy tiga whose spelling varies (mantiga, tiya, tile etc.) depending on the language, and which means peanuts, is actually the contraction of the Portuguese expression “manteiga de amendoim”, which means “peanut butter”. Inevitably, maafe is the most widely used African gastronomy worldwide for designate peanut sauce.

Yassa for Macron

Originally from Casamance, yassa is one of the most famous Senegalese dishes in the world. No wonder it appeared, as the only African dish alongside the Cameroonian ones, on the menu of the working lunch that Paul Biya offered to Emmanuel Macron, on July 26, 2022, during his visit to Cameroon as part of his african tour. This goes to show that this meat dish, usually chicken, marinated in mustard or lemon, fried onions and, possibly, pitted green olives, has conquered taste buds from all over the world.

If ingredients like mustard and olives can evoke foreign influences, this is gastronomy yassa which brings full certainty. As for tigathe gastronomy yassa comes from the Portuguese “assar”, via the Creole casamance, and means “to roast”. In other words, the yassa means the roasting of a meat product with fried onions.

juicy market

For many sweets are not part of the eating habits of the populations of sub-Saharan Africa. But on closer inspection, the peoples of East Africa, in particular those who share the Swahili language, have a centuries-old relationship with pastry due to the contacts on the coasts both with Europe, in particular Portugal, and with the ‘Asia, especially Arabs. It is precisely from this so-called Swahili area that the Mandazi originates.

Mandazi comes from Swahili maandasi Where is it sentplural of went, and designates a set of sweet preparations such as candies, jams, cakes, donuts and tarts. In usage, however, it refers to a generally triangular donut made from flour, yeast, sugar, and milk.

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The recipe for Christmas thiakry, by Mory Sacko

By expanding its range to African meals, Picard Surgelés clearly intends to take its share of the pie in the rapidly growing, juicy market of African cuisines. There is no doubt, therefore, that the arrival of this frozen giant will reconfigure this business segment, since the choice of the four ready meals is based both on their international reputation and on their ability to find a consensus of taste among the highest number Of consumers.

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