Togolese cuisine is renowned throughout the region and Togolese chefs are found working in restaurants and hotels all over West Africa.
The most widely eaten food is maize, which is ground into flour and mixed with water to make a porridge called pâtes, (a French word) or akume (the same thing in Ewé). Pâtes is always served with 'sauces' -- thick stews usually made of vegetables, like okra and ademe and spinach. Sauces are also made with meat, most often smoked fish, but all sorts of other meats are eaten, including fish heads, cow skin and large bush rats, known locally as grasscutters or agouti.
Another very famous Togolese food is fufu. The preparation of fufu is a communal ritual; a hard, laborious task done by women. First yams are washed, peeled, cut up and boiled until soft. Then two or three women pound the cooked yams in a pestle with thick sticks until the yam has the consistency of bakers dough. The noise the fufu pounders make is one of the most instantly recognisable sounds in Togo. Like pâtes, fufu is eaten with sauces. Groundnut, goat and palm nut are popular flavours.
Other crops get a similar treatment. Cassava is milled into flour and shaped into a pâte called a kokonte, and in dryer areas, sorghum and millet are grown and made into porridge or pâtes.
Togolese eating and drinking habits have been influenced by the countrys colonial legacy. German-style beer is very popular, and baguettes are preferred over loaves.
Mostly Togolese people eat at home, but for those who wish to eat out, roadside stalls sell corn on the cob, peanuts, omelettes, brochettes and cooked prawns, and in the main towns, there are restaurants of all sorts.
Photo by Mike Rimmer