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SAINT LOUIS, SENEGAL - Welcome to Saint Louis, a cultural capital city in northern Senegal, on the bank of the Senegal River, Atlantic Ocean, and near the border of Mauritania. Saint Louis happens to be the homeland, where you will find the original Jollof Rice, known locally as Thieboudienne. Today we have the privilege to see the full process of making jollof rice, one of West Africa’s best foods!
I have great memories of when I was growing up and I had many friends from West Africa. Occasionally they would come to school with homemade jollof rice - and I remember my first taste which was love at first bite. Something about the spices, tomato rice, and tender meat or fish, garlic and chilies, all combined to make one of the most comforting foods known. You will find versions of jollof rice throughout West Africa and all of Africa, but Senegal, and specifically Saint Louis is the birthplace of jollof rice and where you’ll find the original version. Throughout West Africa you’ll find jollof rice cooked with a variety of meats, but in Senegal it’s most common with fish.
We were invited to a local family home and they cooked the entire process of jollof rice (thieboudienne) from start to finish. It’s an incredibly complicated dish with dozens of ingredients, herbs, and seasoning. I loved all the different vegetables like the bitter eggplants and the hibiscus leaves and tamarind. Once all the vegetables and fish are cooked in the tomato paste, they are taken out and the rice is cooked within the liquid. Additionally she made an amazing sauce of onions and carrots and tomato sauce and chilies. Once all the ingredients were ready, the jollof rice are assembled on communal eating platters with rice on the bottom, all the vegetables and fish on top, and extra onion sauce sprinkled on top.
I can say it was the best jollof rice (thieboudienne) I’ve had in my life!
Later we went on a horse cart tour of Saint Louis and visited the amazing fishing village along the Atlantic coast. People were cool and the atmosphere was lively and vibrant.
Another incredible day in Senegal, West Africa!
Thank you to Pape Tatandiaye (Visit Senegal https://www.instagram.com/papetatandiaye/)
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