Recently I challenged myself to start discovering some of the more exotic local produce available on the vendors’ stands in Senegal. I started this week. Well, kind of. I ventured beyond my norm, but the fruit that appeared in my kitchen came from friend, not a vendor. Anyway…
Meet the baobab fruit, also known as monkey bread or pain de singe.
It grows on the famous baobab tree which, legend has it, was the most beautiful tree in the world. But she became vain. So God picked her up by the trunk, flipped her upside down and stuck her in the dirt. So what we see now are her roots sticking up in the air.
There are a couple of things you can do with the baobab fruit once you crack it open. Inside are dark seeds covered in a white, dry pulp. (Apparently very high in vitamin C and calcium.) You can suck on them like candy and then spit out the seeds. Not bad, but nothing I’d want to chow down on at the movies.
More commonly, the pulp is used to make a drink called bouye. It has the consistency of chalky milk and the flavor of… mild tropical. That’s about the best I can describe it. It’s not really citrusy, but tastes like sunshine, flowers and summer fruits.
Our house-helper walked me through the recipe for bouye.
Pull out the white pulpy seeds from the baobab fruit. Put them in a large bowl and cover them with warm water. Let sit a couple hours until the pulp is hydrated. Using your fingers, work out the dark seeds, leaving just the wet white pulp in the liquid. Stir, stir, stir. The liquid will become opaque. Strain out the fibrous pulp using a cheesecloth or very fine wire mesh. Sweeten the remaining liquid with sugar. Chill before serving.
Serving suggestion: It is said that drinking too much bouye can make you constipated. Never fear! Drinking too much bissap loosens you up. Fortunately the solution is delicious. Mix equal parts bouye and bissap to make a cocktail. Yum!