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Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A taste of Senegal and The Gambia

Food in Senegal and The Gambia is similar, so we are going to combine them. Our pictures do not fairly represent the amount of fish consumed since I don't like fish, but it actually isn't hard to find chicken and often beef, goat, and sheep. For those who haven't tried it, unless it is fresh, goat tastes just like a goat smells. If it is really fresh, it is not bad.

Small fried beignet type balls (sort of like munchkin donuts) are common, but differ dramatically in quality. These that we had in St. Louis were so good that we went back and bought several extra bags from the woman to eat for a few days.

In Senegal, they like to put millet into their yogurt. Tara says it was good, but thought this particular yogurt a bit too sweet. Andy says it would have been good without the yogurt part.
In Africa, it has gotten so hot that Tara sometimes drinks soda. This is a bit of a surprise since she hates soda. I don't normally drink it because it makes me burp. Tara burps all the time, so I don't know why she dislikes it. In any case, it is cold, so her dislike is overcome by the coolness. (Note from Tara: Wrong, this is actually bissap, or hibiscus juice, in a reused soda bottle. Though I do admit I have been drinking soda lately. I will drink anything cold these days.)
I bought this "cookies" on the street in Dakar that looked like dog biscuits. I was a bit surprised when they, in fact, tasted like dog biscuits. (Don't tell me you have never tried one.) However, after my saliva moistened it, it tasted like a fruity dog biscuit and was edible.
We hadn't had ice cream in a long time, so I insisted that we buy a liter at the store in Dakar for $4, which was about half the price of any brand we knew. We opened it up immediately upon leaving the store and Tara asked if it tasted like margarine to me. I had to admit that it tasted exactly like cold margarine. Apparently, they make ice cream with coconut oil, so it tastes like margarine. We don't suggest Sim brand ice cream to our readers.
This is the very overpriced ($6) creme brulee that we bought to see Orchestra Baobob for free. Well worth it for the entertainment. It was supposed to be green tea, which is an excellent idea for creme brulee, but very poorly executed in this case.
They sell hibiscus flowers everywhere in Senegal and The Gambia because they make a drink called bissap out of them, which is really good. Trader Joe's in the US has started selling hibiscus flowers, so feel free to look up a bissap recipe and make some yourself. Don't pay much attention to the amount of sugar, though, because it tastes like it is a lot.
Tara with another yogurt. This one was drinkable.
A popular drink throughout West Africa is gingembre, which is a VERY strong ginger juice. I love ginger and like this drink, but sometimes it actually burns your mouth to drink it. This one was particularly good because it was so cold that tiny ginger ice floated at the top of it. Since ice is hard to find, we relished it.
The next fun drink of West Africa is called bouyi (with spelling variations in different countries). It is made from the fruit of the famed baobab tree, which we will show in later posts. They mix the fruit with sugar and water and make it cold to turn it into a very tasty drink that Tara says tastes a bit like a sweet and sour banana milk shake.
The staple food of West Africa is a grain (normally rice) covered in some kind of sauce. Sometimes it has meat and sometimes not. One of the most common sauces is a peanut sauce, which is not sweet at all and sometimes a bit spicy. Very good, though it is no Thai peanut sauce.
In The Gambia, we stumbled into a tiny restaurant that turned out to have been recently opened by a Nigerian who had trained as a catering chef. His food was excellent, he was incredibly happy to tell us what everything was (he diligently explained about three things I asked about on the menu before telling me that he was sadly already out of them for the night), and it was one of the cheapest meals we had in the country. This one is called benachin, which by definition has a spicy rice and little clumps of different vegetables. I think that it tasted better than this picture looks.
Tara had the yassa, which is chicken in a lemon and onion sauce. Note that it even came with lettuce. That is class!
In Dakar, we visited a place called N'Ice Cream because it was supposed to have the best ice cream around and because it had a good name. We did not have any better ice cream in Senegal, so I guess it may have been the best around, but it was not great. The caramel was unexciting and the chirimoya (a South American fruit) was okay.
This picture has many elements: the Fanta is Tara's first orange Fanta in life. The food is domoda, which is just a variation on the peanut sauce and rice. Tara also had some local cat fish from the Gambia River that she says was excellent. The candle in the water bottle was the only light the tiny village of Tendaba had...
This is the outside of N'Ice Cream, which indicates that the ice cream should have been far better than it was. Sort of like a ship of ice cream. It was, however, air conditioned!
In Georgetown, The Gambia, we got this breakfast sandwich filled with beans and palm oil doused onions. This made our breath good for the rest of our travels that day, and it tasted surprisingly good.
Fanta in Africa comes in a lot of crazy flavors. Here are apple and pineapple, both of which are decent but not amazing. Equally annoying is that people throw cans in the street, while they at least recycle glass bottles and often reuse plastic bottles.
Well, that wraps up food of Senegal and The Gambia. If you have been to these places and think that we are forgetting important foods, please wait a couple more countries because we have lots more West African food to go!

1 comment:

  1. Any post about Senegalese food without mentioning cëbujën is criminal! It's the country's signature dish!

    Good job on the drinks, though. That ginger juice might be the best thing in the world.