You know, every time we start planning a trip to the US, I find myself making a list of the foods I want to eat/gorge myself on while we’re back. We’re now about seven weeks out from moving back to Senegal, so the timing is about right for me to begin making that list as well.

– Ceebu jen: the dish that paella wishes it could be. Broken rice cooked in a delicious, spicy broth served with fresh fish that’s been stuffed with garlic, pepper and parsley, and slow-cooked vegetables including carrots, cabbage and eggplant.

Roxaya's mom selling ceebu jen veggies

– Patricia’s bissap: my friend makes the best bissap drink. Soak dried red hibiscus flowers in boiling water, add lots of sugar and fresh mint leaves. Strain and let cool, then chill on ice blocks. Serve the deep red drink in tall glasses.

– Papaya salad: fresh, ripe papaya solo, red grapefruit and lady finger bananas. Peel. Cut. Toss. Dig in.

– Attaya: the famous Senegalese tea is as dark as night and gets as sweet as… well, I can’t think of anything else that sweet. Add a couple sprigs of fresh mint and I’m ready to slurp round after round.

Yassa ginaar at our friend Edouard's restaurant

– Yassa ginaar: the dish that puts Senegal on the map. Carmelized onions in a lemony sauce with tender chicken, served over white Thai rice. And a dollop of thick hot pepper sauce.


– Nabu’s fruit salad: Chop apples, bananas and oranges. Toss with sugared peanuts, a pinch of cinnamon and a couple squirts of lime juice.

Our friend Kiné's restaurant... not Le Récife.

– Thiof at Le Récife: Go to the westernmost tip of Africa. I mean the very, very westernmost point. There’s a restaurant called Le Récife. Order the grilled thiof, which is grouper. It comes out with the head still attached, but the delicious grilled fish and golden brown fresh potato fries will distract you.

– Mangoes: lots of mangoes.