My Senegalese Bread Secret

I gained some twenty pounds during the year I lived in West Africa. People are always like, “Omggg how can you GAIN weight in Africa???!!?” Easily:

1. Be a vegetarian in a country where that is not really a thing.
2. Be too lazy/broke (by expat standards) to consistently prepare vegetarian delicacies of fresh vegetables.

Yay, now you are subsisting on a diet of white bread and beer (liquid bread)! 

Luckily, the French taught them well and Senegal’s bread game is pretty on point. In Dakar, baguettes are just everywhere—most reliably in their own special closets outside of corner stores, but also at bus stops, food carts, on the backs of bicycles, in markets, sometimes even at liquor stores! And they are delicious—melty soft on the centers with a thin and crisp crust that would give me paper cuts on the inside of my mouth as I consumed entire loaves in minutes.

But even better than the abundant baguettes were the more highly prized and far scarcer tapalapa. This was the kind of bread that would be described as “rustic” if it were sold at Whole Foods—floured on the outside in a way that fell off on your hands, chewy crust, satisfyingly resistant inside texture when you tore pieces off to shove in your mouth. There was only one guy I knew who sold it, but luckily his storefront (a cart with bicycle wheels on it) was conveniently located right between my home and office. (Except he wasn’t there at all during Ramadan.)

Oh, and all these breads were like less than ten cents, I think. Whatever the price was, it was negligible.

 

Katie Seward blogs here (sometimes). 

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16 Comments / Post A Comment

iffie (#1,911)

“luckily the french taught them well”

yay for colonization! on-point and cheap bread is everywhere! ugh.

katieeitak (#1,964)

@iffie That was meant to read as HEAVILY sarcastic. I thought the cost benefit analysis of hundreds of years of oppression v. decent bread was obvious enough to make that clear.

iffie (#1,911)

@katieeitak i wish it read that way! but it doesn’t (to me). i’m usually pretty good at the internet, i guess i missed this.

cherrispryte (#19)

@katieeitak Totally obvious, what with the ease of conveying tone over the internet, and the complete and utter lack of casual racism and general idiocy on said internet.

katieeitak (#1,964)

@cherrispryte Well it’s hardly my fault if other people are stupid racists!

mishaps (#65)

People are always like, “Omggg how can you GAIN weight in Africa???!!?”

Your circle of acquaintances is comprised of people whose only exposure to African culture is through Starvin’ Marvin on South Park?

katieeitak (#1,964)

@mishaps Literally every single person!

cherrispryte (#19)

Well this is certainly disappointing.

StephieB (#1,967)

I think the point of this lil piece is that she’s making fun of herself and thus exaggerating her descriptions. I believe the term for this is Hyperbole: an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally.

cherrispryte (#19)

@StephieB … this is not at all hyperbolic? At times possibly sarcastic, if you want to give the writer the benefit of the doubt but hyperbole? Nope.

EffoKonteh (#1,968)

Don’t forget the times when one had to dip their bread into mayonnaise to help it go down better. That didn’t help the waistline, I’m sure. :)

guillaume (#2,003)

so racist

bekindrewind (#2,006)

@cherrispryte and @guillaume. Please enlighten me as to why you find this racist. Education and dialogue is the best way to conquer racism so please let me know what you think is particularly racist about this (while leaving aside your lack of ability to understand obviously sarcastic remarks) so that the rest of us can ponder. If you really care about pointing out that something is racist, you should also take the time to point out why. As a professor who teaches a course on race and inequality, I’m very curious to know your thoughts. @katieeitak, I thought this was very humorous, having lived in Senegal myself for years. Cheers,

I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles.
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