An utterly beguiling example of stability in an unstable land, Senegal is the sort of place that makes you question everything you know about traveling. For Anthony Bourdain, this is a country that surprises, both in terms of culture and food. Reflecting on his time in this unique African country, Tony states that “Senegal is one of the best arguments for travel I can think of.” From the culture and food on display, he may well be right.
Anthony Bourdain visited Senegal to film season 7 (episode 6) of Parts Unknown; it was his only visit to this particular African country, but he made many visits to the continent as a whole – as well as West Africa.
If you’re planning a trip to Senegal and want to eat well, or are just curious about all the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Senegal, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find a breakdown of all the spots Tony ate in Senegal as well as what he ate. Let this be a guide to help you dive deep into the culture of Senegal. Bon appetit! (Did you know French is the official language of Senegal? Well, now you do!)
Marche Kermel (Dakar)
Bourdain’s trip to Senegal begins in the Marche Kermel market in the capital of Dakar, where he meets with Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, a Ghanaian-British radio journalist, correspondent, commentator, and broadcaster.
They discuss the culture of Senegal over a breakfast of lakh, a type of yogurt made with millet, vanilla essence, orange essence, and some fresh fruit juices. The Senegalese make juice from just about every fruit you find, and this morning they are served with baobab (a type of oval berry), red sorrel (also known as bissap), and ginger.
Cour de Cassation Beach (Dakar)
Tony’s next stop is to meet with Pierre Thiam, a restaurateur, chef, and cookbook author who was born and raised in Dakar, at Cour de Cassation beach to visit one of Pierre’s favorite beach shack-style restaurants.
With an abundance of seafood, the dishes here are suitably delicious. There is thiof yassa – thiof (grouper) cooked on the bone while wrapped in foil paper, served with a Mignonette-type sauce of onions – half shell mussels grilled over an open fire, and sea urchin cut in half and similarly grilled over flames.
Huitres de Sokone (Dakar)
Meeting next with filmmaker and journalist Oumy N’Dour, photographer Fama Diouf, and entrepreneur Minielle Tall at Huitres de Sokone in Dakar, Tony discusses the role of women within the country, over a light dinner consisting of grilled clams, and more sea urchin.
Bazoof Restaurant (Dakar)
Upping the ante and the presentation of Senegalese food, Bourdain visits the Bazoof restaurant to hear the legendary musician Youssou N’Dour perform, before Youssou joins him for dinner.
The meal here is beef mafe, a Senegalese stew thickened with ground peanuts. Although similar preparations exist throughout West Africa, the Senegalese version is particularly delicious. The beef is first seared, then cooked with onion, garlic, peppers, and carrots. The pan is then deglazed with ground peanuts and broth to bring up all the good stuff from the pan (otherwise known as fond), then simmered until tender and served hot over rice.
Unknown Street Vendor (St Louis)
Traveling up the coast, Bourdain makes his way to Saint-Louis, once the colonial capital of all of French West Africa until Dakar took over in 1902.
Here he tries the traditional street breakfast of ndambe. Ndambe is a bean sandwich beloved as a street food in all of Senegal. Simply purchase a freshly baked baguette from a nearby bakery, then take it to a streetside vendor for a spread of spicy lentils. Best consumed seated at the side of the road, with an optional café touba, coffee made with djar, an African black pepper, and sugar.
Au Fil du Fleuve (St Louis)
Visiting the stunning guesthouse Au Fil du Fleuve, Tony’s next meal is a private lunch with host and proprietor Marie-Caroline Camara, who works to preserve some of the city’s beautiful historic architecture.
The main course for lunch is the grandly named “Mulet Farci à la Saint-Louisienne.” Mullet fish, caught from the local river, is deboned before being filled with a seafood mix of herbs, vegetables, and bread, then baked until tender, allowing ample time for the flavors to weave their magic into one another.
Dibeterie le Mboté (Dakar)
Traveling back to Dakar, Bourdain’s next dinner partner is hip-hop artist Djily Bagdad. Together, the two visit a street eatery known as a “Dibiterie.” Dibiterie is a Senegalese word meaning a place where you can eat grilled meat over a charcoal fire, and le Mboté delivers finely in that respect.
A dish that can best be described as street meat in its purest form, the dibi served up here is grilled spiced lamb, hacked into pieces and served on grease-stained paper, with onions and mustard on the side.
Lac Rose (Cap Vert Peninsula)
Traveling outside of Dakar, Anthony Bourdain next gets to indulge his playful side as he spends an afternoon racing heavily modified trucks in the sand near Lac Rose, also known as Lake Retba, with Jean Azar, a seasoned veteran of the Paris-Dakar Rally.
After a few hours cutting across the dunes, the pair relax by the shore with a simple lunch of barbecue chicken and ice-cold beer.
Private family meal with Pierre Thiam (Dakar)
His final meal in Senegal, Bourdain visits the home of Pierre Thiam for an introduction to Ceebu jёn, the national dish whose name in the Senegalese language of Wolof translates as “rice with fish”.
Today the fish is grouper, scored and stuffed with a mixture of garlic, parsley, and peppers, then slowly simmered in a hearty tomato broth. The broth itself is a rich concoction, flavored with fermented conch (known as yete) and swordfish.
The dish is then served together with vegetables on a single communal plate, to give an insight into how both sustenance and culture in Senegal are key terms in day-to-day living.
Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Senegal, or what he ate while there? Let me know in the comments below!