I am completely unable to hide from the fact that I love food. My dad has always said to me that he never needs to worry about me as I always have a good appetite, and he is not wrong! Therefore it would be very rude not to mention one of the most important parts of life!
Rice is the staple diet here, eaten pretty much every single day. After asking one of my classes what they would miss the most if they were to move abroad, the consensus was ‘thieboudienne’ (rice and fish). Maybe its the same as many Brits feel about a Sunday Roast? As much as you try to recreate it abroad, it will never be the same as your mother’s. However, the rice in thieboudienne is prepared in some complicated way to make it taste extra delicious. Plus Monday is thieboudienne day at the BSI and costs 800 CFA (about £1). Bargain! There is also Thiebouyapp (Beef or lamb) and thiebouguinaar (Chicken), the chicken being my absolute favourite! I seriously urge everyone to come and visit, just to try thiebouguinaar, it will change your life.
There is also Maarfe, which is normally beef in a tomato and peanut sauce, with white rice. This is another of my favourites. There is something weirdly comforting about it, maybe because it was one of the first dishes I tried.
As a general rule, Senegalese dishes are served in a massive dish to be shared at social events. There is often a lot, and you eat what is directly in front of you with a spoon or with your right hand. In these situations I have always been encouraged to eat more and more whenever I stop, and somebody in the circle (often a man) tend to attack the meat and fling bite sized chunks to my section. This I really appreciate as it is no mean feat to cut meat with a spoon!
Seafood is another thing I enjoy, and because we are surrounded by coast, it is done well here. Monkfish is normally the cheapest fish on the menu, which I’m told is the opposite in England. Apparently, before fishermen realised that people like it, it was thrown back into the sea when it was caught!
Having recently gained a number of food intolerances in the past year (the main problem being onions), I was slightly worried how I would be able to eat for the next ten months. But so far my experience has been great, the only dish I need to avoid is Yassa, made from a sauce which is basically onions with onions. Also,almost any food that you might crave can be found hiding somewhere in Dakar, and since being here I’ve tried Ethiopian, Cape Verdian, Indian (that isnt a chicken Korma!) and Japanese food. The only thing I haven’t found is good pork sausages. The supermarket next door even sells cheddar cheese!
Last weekend I was invited by a very kind student to his house. On arrival his sisters gave me clothes to wear and whisked me off to the kitchen to learn how to make thiebeuguinarr, my favourite Senegalese dish! Although it didn’t feel like it, we were in the kitchen for at least 4 or 5 hours! Senegalese food is a long process! I also learnt how to make Bouye and Bissap juices. I will attempt it very soon.
To conclude, please don’t be alarmed when I touch down in England this summer with a little extra weight… I’ve merely been enjoying what this country has to offer, it would be a shame not too 🙂