My Senegalese Bread Secret
by Katie Seward
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).