Sorry for the long silence! I’ve just come back from an eye opening trip to Sénégal, in West Africa. As Spicebox Travels readers know, I am a huge fan of markets and believe that visiting the local market is the best way to get into the rhythm of a place.
So on my first day in Sénégal, I visited the market at Mbour, outside Dakar, where fishermen go out in traditional painted canoes called pirogues and then bring in the catch, which they then sell directly on the beach or in the adjacent market.
I was lucky to have a guided tour by Chef Fidel, from the ecolodge we stayed at, accompanied by our driver, Philippe, who is from Mbour and knew the best vendors.
I could have gotten by with my tres rusty French, but it wouldn’t have been worked out, since the vendors language of choice is Wolof. There’s no way I would have figured out what these essential Senegalese ingredients are: dried baobab fruit (for making juice), L; netetu (dried fermented locust bean, for accompanying the national dish, thieboudienne), R.
We had been warned to beware of unofficial “guides” who follow you unbidden, are not really helpful, and who demand payment at the end of your “tour.” So we were all wary of the gentleman on the right in the photo below, including our lodge employees, who tried to keep him away. However, it turned out that our uninvited guide, who followed us at a respectful distance during our market tour, actually had a surprising amount of arcane culinary knowledge. In fact, Chef Fidel even began to ask him questions towards the end. One of my best memories from the trip was when our guide, overhearing that I was looking for fonio, a very nutritious indigenous grain that is much harder to source than millet, suggested (in English, no less): “You can get fonio in Cote d’Ivoire, or perhaps the supermarket.”
Merci a Phillipe, Fidel et notre guide non officiel!
I hope these photos make up for the long time since my last post. Coming soon: a Senegalese cooking class (with recipes!) and some photos from Dakar. A bientot!
For more accessible flavors closer to home, please join me for the next Thrive Kitchen class at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco on 8/15: Back to School Lunch and Easy Weeknight Cooking. Email SFHealthEd@kp.org or call 415-833-3450 to register– only a few spots left! $30 KP members/$40 nonmembers. See you in the kitchen!
And if you aren’t in the area but would like to join our healthy eating community, please visit and LIKE our Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/TheDoctorsSpicebox. To your health!