Food is an integral part of any culture so is it safe for me to say you are what you eat…Maybe not!
Whenever I visit a country, I always make it a big deal to try out the local food in order to further understand the way of life. Before I took a trip to the Gambia, I had done a little research on the local dishes and noted some to try. Some I ended up falling in love it; others, it didn’t go down so well.
The first meal I had was the Chicken Yassa; a spicy dished made with a lot of onions and poultry or fish, and served with rice. The meal originated from Senegal but is also widely eaten in the Gambia. I had this meal in Lamin, where I went on a tour of the mangrove. It is a must try for onion lovers but it had more oil than I usually liked. The version I had had Oysters added to give it a seafood vibe (they had an oyster farm at Lamin).
I also had Fish Yassa on my last day at a restaurant in Senegambia but the Chicken version is more to be reckoned with.
Domoda was another dish I had heard so much and I wasn’t very much impressed after I gave it a try. Maybe it was because I ordered it from the hotel as the notion generally is that hotel foods are “crappy”! Apparently, it is the national dish of the country. It is a stew made with peanuts, tomato paste, vegetables and beef (or chicken).
I laid my mouth next on Super Kanja. The name first confused me as it sounded like something you’ll get “high” on. Kanja reminded me of “ganja” and had me thinking there was an ounce of weed in the food. WRONG!!! It is Okro mixed cooked with mashed fish and pepper; very similar to “Ila Asepo“, a yoruba soup in Nigeria. The soup was served with the Gambian version of Fufu which was softer and sweet compared to the version I’m used to.
Beniccin was explained to be as I looked through the menu at a restaurant in Banjul city.
“You’ll love it. It is rice made with tomato sauce.”
I didn’t have the slightest idea that it would be Gambian Jollof rice. It sounded so Italian that I was expecting extreme awesomeness on my plate. Low and behold, Jollof rice to the rescue. It was less spicy that the Nigerian version and it sure was a good eat.