(Maddo is Our Employer)
We found a local restaurant, in the area of Polesgo at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where Maddo has been working for the past 6 years – this is her business. Adolphe, who is part of the Burkina Faso research team, used to frequently come to her restaurant when he worked in the area. As we got there, he recognised and exchanged greetings with the owner, smoothing out the atmosphere and enabling us to confidently ask questions.
As soon as we got to the restaurant we identified several items, such as a freezer, cooking pots, cooking stoves (charcoal and gas), flask on the bar, plastics tables and chairs, a water bucket, plates, cups, glasses and cutlery, money boxes, lamps and a Chinese lantern. Also, we spotted some activities such as food preparation and washing (in the washing area located in the back entrance), as well as the services offered as food, tea, coffee and alcohol.
Maddo's restaurant offered a relaxed atmosphere, where people were often seen socialising. Customers were heard talking about football, the Champions League and Europa, as well as betting on horses and buying credit from salespeople.
We told Maddo about our project and asked her if we could practice some of our methods in her restaurant that day. She agreed. Maddo was busy serving four customers at the time, and so, she asked us if we would mind speaking to her in between serving customers, which we gladly agreed to.
We began by asking about her life. She shared that her partner had left her 6 years ago and she moved to this area of the city to start her own business, the restaurant where we were. Nowadays, she lives with her son who goes to a local school every day. He has breakfast at school, but visits the restaurant after school to eat and help out. Maddo opens her restaurant between 6-7 am every morning, unless some social activity comes in the way, and closes at 11 pm. When she opens, the first thing she does is clean the local and placing chairs and tables. She also starts boiling water in tea and coffee for first customers.
Maddo boils water in a small casserole pot (using the gas stove) and empties the contents into a flask. When the flask is empty again, she boils more water. On an average day at the restaurant, she would use 4 flasks for tea and coffee. The preferred beverage is avec citrón (with lemon) but lemon is seasonal, so people also have Tamarin when lemon isn’t available. “It is less bitter than lemon,” she said.
The flask that she bought is, according to her, the best in the market, keeps water hot all day. Maddo bought it from a market in Ouagadougou in June 2016. She owns another flask, the same one, in her home that she has had for 8 years. She has had other flasks before, but they would not keep the water hot for long periods of time. They also lasted only 1 or 2 months.
When it comes to the food, she starts cooking after the first flask is prepared. For the former, she usually buys the ingredients in the local market place every 2 days, to ensure that she has enough to feed her customers. All the food offered in the menu is prepared simultaneously. She uses gas stoves mainly, but when gas runs out or there are more dishes to prepare, she uses a charcoal stove.
“Gaz est tres cher" (Gas is to expensive)
Maddo utilises multiple pots for food preparation that are mainly 2 different kinds: The casserole pot, which is thin aluminium, and the marmite pot, which is aluminium with other materials, such as recycled car pieces. Yet, the main difference is that it is thicker, heavy and resistant. With the first one she cooks large quantities of, for example, sauce and soup, whereas with the second pot type she cooks rice and smaller quantities of food.
After the food preparation, the washing up starts. The washing area has 3 bowls to wash up, as well as a small casserole pot for food waste. One bowl is for dirty dishes in water, the other one is a plastic bucket with soap, water and a dishcloth and the last one, contains cold water to rinse the dishes when clean. This content is then transferred back into kitchen/ bar area to be reused next day. Maddo does not take any of these pots and utensils home; they stay in the restaurant overnight.