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Neex na looooool

Hello world! Long time no post . . . je m'excuse. Life in Dakar got busy last week with homework, weddings, tailors, and such exciting things as that. Today's post, however, is about food. Sitting here with a rumble in my stomach waiting for my poisson et haricots to arrive, it's only fitting that I should describe the wonderful nourriture that I get to experience here. Meals with the family are always served on one big communal platter, often while seated on the floor; the meat (or fish) and vegetables are scattered across a bed of what is usually rice but sometimes couscous, onions, or homemade fries. Some families , like mine, eat with utensils, while some people choose to just use their hands. Culturally it is unacceptable to eat with your left hand. Even very traditional settings, one should not even lean on the left hand while eating with the right because of certain superstitions that I don't know very well. During the actual process of eating, the matriarch is in charge of breaking up the meat and vegetables and spreading them around to everyone, though in my family other people can take on this responsibility as well. In general, there is very little conversation while people eat because traditionally people fear that talking will cause evil spirits to enter the food. And really, everyone's fully concentrated on how delicious the food is anyway :)

After eating the meal, if you want to say that you enjoyed it and that it pleased your senses, you say, "Neex na;" if you really, really enjoyed it, say, "Neex na lol." The longer you hold out the "o" in "lol," the more you enjoyed the meal. Then, if you put down your spoon or make a move to leave the dinner platter, everyone will tell you, "Mange! Lekkal!" both of which are commands to eat, in French and Wolof respectively. And eat you will, if you can't convince them of "Suur na," that you've had enough. As we students came to learn quite quickly, nearly everyone in Senegal is determined to send us home looking like baobab trees.
 
After dinner, often we fruit or thiakry for dessert. Thiakry is a sweet yogurty dish mixed with millet. It's soooooooooooo good. Occasionally we'll have thiakry with chopped bananas, or mixed with a peanut sauce. If all goes as planned, I will be learning how to make thiakry so I can bring it back to the States. I also have intentions to learn how to make some traditional Senegalese dinners, whether the improvised kind or actual named dishes. This is a list of different ones that have names:

Ceeb u gen = fish and rice
Ceeb u yapp = meat and rice
Ceeb u poule = chicken and rice
Mafe = rice and meat with a peanut sauce
Yassa = fish or chicken with specific spices
Fataya = a meat sandwich with egg, fries, and other toppings

Occasionally we have hamburgers from the local hamburger stand, and let me tell you that these hamburgers are better than any hamburger you have ever had/ will ever have. They have the same fixings that we would normally put on a hamburger, but they also have a fried egg and french fries on top of that, and they're made with real meat. Neex na looooooooool.

After meals, it's tradition to have ataya, which I've probably mentioned in past posts. However, I've got homework to finish so I'll post in great detail about ataya soon! Ba beneen yoon, enchallah.

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