Food in Benin

Video Transcript

“The most common dish that you will see in Benin is called ‘pate,’ and that’s spelled P-A-T-E. Pate generally is made by mixing a flour of some sort, generally either corn, millet or the dried skins of yams. They make that into a flour, they mix it with hot water and they make it into this, kind of like a porridge, but then the porridge will harden to the point where you can break off chunks of it. And then you dip these chunks of pate into a sauce of some kind, generally a tomato-based spicy sauce or a peanut-based sauce. That sauce could have fish or meat in it, or it could not depending on how much money you have.<br><br>”Another dish that you’ll see, more frequently in the North than in the South but occasionally you’ll see it in the South, is something called ‘ignam pile,’ that means pounded yams. Here in the States we interchange the [words] sweet potato and yam. Both are a root tuber with orangey flesh. In Benin and most of West Africa, a yam is something completely different from that. It’s a huge ground tuber that has a black skin and white flesh. And they grow these in these big piles of dirt that they call ‘boots.’ So they’ll take these yams, they skin them; they use the skins to make this other pate flour that they can use to make pate. And then the yams they cook, and then they put them in these huge mortar and pestles and they pound them so that they make this stuff that’s almost like the consistency of mashed potatoes. And you eat that like pate, where you’ll pull off a hunk of it and dip it in sauce and eat it.”

In this video, a Beninese expert discusses the staple foods in Benin.