AFCON/CAN '12: Drogba's mum cooks up Ivorian favorites for fans
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — Didier Drogba's mother is preparing traditional west African food for a group of 60 traveling Ivory Coast fans at the African Cup.
Clotilde Drogba works in a makeshift kitchen at a dusty stadium on the outskirts of Malabo preparing Ivorian dishes such as chicken and fish with rice, plantains, potatoes and spicy sauces.
"Everyone has their thing and what they like to do," Clotilde told The Associated Press after preparing lunch on Monday. "This is what I like to do — be helpful to people.
"I would support my son doing anything whether he was famous or not. This isn't about my son, it's about supporting my country."
Clotilde also prepared food for supporters at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Cup favorite Ivory Coast, which has already qualified for the quarterfinals, plays Angola in its final Group B match on Monday.
While Drogba and the rest of the Ivory Coast squad prepared for the match in a luxury hotel outside town, Clotilde sat on a bench in the dirt-floor kitchen chopping raw chicken with a cleaver as flies buzzed round the fresh meat.
Metal pots and pans containing bananas, onions, peanuts and tomatoes were scattered around, while portable gas hobs were used for cooking the food.
At first, Clotilde was shy about being interviewed, insisting she needed time to wash her hands and clean up.
"The mother of Drogba cannot be seen like this," she protested.
A coach-load of supporters wearing the orange of Ivory Coast turned up soon after and took their places at plastic picnic tables. A gazebo provided shade from the fierce sun.
"The best moment is when you make a good meal and people are satisfied," said Clotilde, sitting down for a rest after helping the handful of female kitchen workers serve the food. "But it's even better when Didier scores and the team wins."
Clotilde said she caught Ivory Coast's opening two victories on a screen at the modest stadium where she's working, but added that she hoped to watch the semifinal in the stadium in Bata if Drogba and his teammates make it that far.
Unfortunately, Drogba himself will miss out on the home cooking.
"The best food is what mom makes, but Didier has to eat at the hotel, which is normal. He has to eat with the team — these are the rules and I respect that," she said.
Before Drogba became a star player in France, Clotilde said she was complimented on her son's powerful physique.
"In France, they say you have to give children lots of soup so they will grow up strong," she said. "Didier was so big they always said I must have given him lots of soup. Didier's favorite was always sweet puree of plantain."
It was also no surprise to mum that Drogba turned into a world-class footballer.
"I was a fan of Franz Beckenbauer when I was pregnant with Didier and I wanted him to be a big footballer like that — and God made it happen," Clotilde said.
Even without mom's cooking, Clotilde is confident she will see her son finally lift the African Cup.
"The team plays very well and it's my wish that they win the cup," she said.
Ivory Coast supporter Euloge Ngbesso was enjoying a big bowl of rice and spicy chicken as Drogba's mom helped clean up the dishes before posing for a seemingly interminable round of photos with supporters.
"She's a good woman," he said. "She's like a mother to the supporters here. She's very open and people respect her for who she is, not just because she's Didier Drogba's mom."