exotic fruits of Senegal

A roundup of some of the delicious and new-to-me fruits I’ve sampled since being in Senegal:

Madd is a seasonal fruit, available during the summer months, that seems to be most popular simmered with sugar and pepper down to a compote of small chunks of flesh in a sweet, sour, and spicy syrup.

You suck on the mouth-puckering pulp until you get to the stone-like seed.

I knew the baobab tree was important to Senegal symbolically but I didn’t realize it is also important nutritionally. Baobab fruit (also known here as bouye) is a superfood, packed with vitamins and nutrients.

When I tasted it fresh from the tree, it was powdery yet sticky, and like madd, both sweet and sour. I’ve also had it in biscuit, jelly, and juice/smoothie form.

I find the biscuit form rather weird, but the latter two are delicious – though sometimes far too sweet depending on how much sugar is added. It’s a strange paradox to me: Rather than gorge on all the French pastries available to them, the Senegalese usually opt for fruit as their go-to dessert. This would seem to indicate a rather weak sweet tooth… And yet they pour sugar into their juice. Perhaps this is like the middle way?

Bissap, known as hibiscus in English, is ubiquitous here. It’s made into jelly and into juice that tastes so much better than the hibiscus tea I’ve had in the States. To make the juice, the dried leaves are boiled and strained, and sugar – and sometimes fresh mint leaves – are added.

Also, since discovering orange blossom water a few months ago at a Lebanese cafe where they added it to my limeade and BLEW MY MIND, we’ve been putting it into bissap juice, which similarly takes it to next-level wonderful.

I’ve also had bissap in ice cream form. Above, a scoop of bissap and a scoop of ginger, both quite tasty.

Ditakh is a kiwi-like fruit that is made into fresh juice. I forgot to take a picture of the homemade version I tried, but here it is in bottled form. (Zena Exotic Fruits is a Lebanese-Senegalese business that turns all of these West-Africa-only fruits into delicious juices and jellies.)

And my favorite local juice that I suppose is not actually from a fruit but whatever: jus de gingembre. Consisting of nothing but fresh ginger and water sometimes mixed with pineapple juice, it’s a potent and delightful drink that burns your throat all the way down.

This post has left me thirsty…

Oh, and I wrote before about the only fruit I’ve tried here that I found absolutely abhorrent: the sour unripe mango.

Sweet and sour seems to be a thing here, but in this case the sour goes way, way too far.

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