Food & Daily life

Food for the day

Cooking and eating

Cooking and eatingIn this video… typical Senegalese food is prepared and the whole family sit and eat together from the same large plate.

As a legacy of French rule, most Senegalese start their day with bread.  In the capital, Dakar, there are also croissants and pastries for breakfast.

Main meals often consist of rice dishes. Couscous and millet also form the basis of many dishes, with protein provided by meat, peanuts or fish.

The favourite national dish is thiéboudienne, chunks of fish stuffed with herbs, served on a bed of rice and vegetables. Another popular meal is yassa poulet, grilled chicken marinated in an onion and lemon sauce.

One of the most common drinks is bissap, which is made from hibiscus, sugar and water. Ginger juice (gingembre in French) is also popular, as is bouyi, a thick sugary drink made from the fruit of the baobab.

Imported food

Though many people in Senegal work in agriculture, most of the country’s staple foods are imported. This causes inflation when food prices rise on the global market.

One company is doing well selling dairy products made from the milk of local cattle, rather than from imported milk powder. The government wants to encourage more local produce to reduce the dependence on imports.

A city of contrasts

Build as you earn

Build as you earnIn this video…a man talks about how he has saved up to build a business. With a small income, saving has been hard. But if he does well, he will be able to reinvest in his property, which is his home as well as his shop.

Around a fifth of the population of Senegal live in the capital of Dakar, the commercial and political hub of the country.  Brand new roads, bridges and tunnels carry the city’s traffic past a growing number of sky scrapers and hotels.

But Dakar is a city of contrasts. In among the 4x4 vehicles are horse-carts and their drivers. And though many roads have new street lighting, power cuts regularly dim their glow.

Many poor rural migrants come to find work in Dakar and shanty towns have sprung up around the outskirts. In these basic dwellings with corrugated iron roofs, families crowd together in one room with no access to running water, sanitation or electricity.

The modern and the traditional

Culturally, the old and the new also live side by side. Dakar is famous for its vibrant music scene throbbing to the beat of mbalax and other music, where stylish young girls or disquettes pack the dance floors.

Yet much of Senegal’s Muslim society remains deeply traditional and patriarchal. Women rarely live by themselves and leave the parental home only once they marry and join their husband (who may have up to three other wives, as allowed by the Koran).

Nevertheless, around two-fifths of women work, with female members of parliament forming a significant minority.

Few Senegalese women are veiled. Many choose to wear headdresses with their colourful and traditional billowing boubous – see Fashion.