Traditional senegalese food
The cuisine in Senegal is remarkably diversified and takes major influences from french and north african tastes. Most food is purchased fresh on the day, from the local markets and street stalls and cooked in a large pot over a gas burner. A typical meal would be.. a small amount of meat or fish marinated heavily with onions (cheap source of flavouring), herbs and spices and then stewed together and served over the top of a large bowl of rice or couscous. Sound simple? Think again! The taste is very rich and earthly, full of flavour (though not spicy). The onions add a big amount of flavour but are disguised by black pepper, lemon and mustard. Truly a unique taste of Western Africa!
The ‘national dish’ is Thieboudienne, or Rice of Fish. Local fish purchased at the market (Freshly caught from the Atlantic) is marinated in a broth of onions, lemon, garlic and parsley. A carrot or two is added to the mix, and served over a base of rice.
The food is presented in one large communal bowl, and all family members sit around the bowl on the floor, up to 8 people per bowl. Spoons were given to us as a ‘luxury’ but normally they would eat the food with their right hand (not very easy whens its rice!). Each person has an un-spoken allocation to his/her portion of the bowl.
Woe to you if you approach on an-others zoning!
However if you see a big chunk of fish on the other side of the bowl, and all thats sitting in your portion are some burnt onions, you will normally be thrown some fish by a helpful neighbour.
A much more social way of eating, but surprisingly time consuming when taking into account the clean-up time afterwards! In the house we were in there was a beautifully carved african style table with elephants carved into the legs and chairs to match, but in two weeks I never saw anybody sit at it! More like an oversized ornament than a useful item. Anybody else had similar experiences?
To try out a recipe at home, google Thiébou yapp or Thieboudienne.