breakfast of Senegalese champions

This millet porridge is called lakh and it’s the traditional breakfast across Senegal. It’s really heavy and in olden days was perfect for keeping farmers full all morning in the fields. If you’re a working stiff with a desk job, though, it’s a bit of a soporific, so these days in Dakar a baguette with Nutella or Chocopain (the Senegalese equivalent, made with peanuts instead of hazelnuts) is a more typical morning meal.

Traditionally, lakh is eaten with sweetened lait caillé – fermented milk, sort of like a very pungent yogurt. But here the Lo ladies are just eating regular store-bought yogurt and some condensed milk on top.

It is delicious and filling and a gluten-free alternative to the rice cakes I’ve been eating every morning and which got really old really fast (even smeared with exotic bissap/hibiscus or baobab jelly).

I wonder why millet isn’t more popular in the States. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before people start saying that millet is the new quinoa. Although amaranth might get there first…

Kaolack et Latmingué redux

baobab_fruit

Two-day filming trip, back to the city and the 4,000-person town where I spent some time two weeks ago. Non-filmic highlights:

shared_meal

First shared meal, in Kaolack. Everyone creates little de facto plate borders for themselves out of the food itself, so it’s not really as shared (read: germ-swappy) as you would think.

shared_meal_after.jpg

I tasted baobab fruit fresh from the tree (the pod-thing it comes in is the top picture). It had the melt-in-your-mouth, chalky texture of astronaut ice cream and was sweet and tart at the same time.

baobab_fruit_bites

Also, baby goats.

baby_goats

I just realized that most of what strikes me as notable and shareable during my travels is food-related. It is such a huge part of culture, no?

On that note, if the Internet cooperates, tomorrow I’ll post pictures of the delicious Senegalese Easter concoction I tried yesterday after it was mass-produced in my house (during a serious two days-long all-hands-on-deck operation).

 

I shouldn’t have done it

rose-flavored ice cream

Tonight on my way to the subway, I passed Ladurée, the Parisian macaron shop. Even though I hold as objective truth than one should never step foot in foreign outposts of shops that are beloved institutions in their home countries, I did anyway. Blame my overactive bladder and preference to use the bathroom in a fancy French café over a McDonalds: once in the door, I couldn’t help but eye the offerings. And when I noticed rose glace on the menu, the battle was over before it began. I had been on the lookout for floral-flavored ice cream above all other food in France, because I remember like it was yesterday the moment I had my first taste of fleur glace from a street vendor in Paris two decades ago. One of the best things I have ever tasted. And yet, I could not for the life of me find flower-flavored ice cream in wintry Paris. No street vendors in sight, and the shops only had rose sorbet.

All this to say, I quickly abandoned my deeply-held convictions and ordered a scoop of Ladurée’s rose glace, from an excessively sweet waitress with a Staten Island accent. It tasted delicious in the way American ice cream can taste delicious, but it was not at all like the life-altering French ice cream I had in 1993. While eating, I eavesdropped on conversations transpiring in English. I paid with dollar bills.

And I felt the looming threat of tarnishing the memory of the Ladurée in Saint Germain, where I bought macarons made more heavenly by the knowledge they came into existence in their motherland, were sold in a luxe shop that would have been guillotined during the French Revolution, and were requested in halting French from snooty employees who couldn’t be bothered with silly American customs like politeness. Ladurée should never have crossed the Atlantic.

And I should never have followed that ice cream with chocolate… but that’s a story for a different blog.

flim-flan

Kozy Shack flan

Don’t ask me why I have been drawn to packaged flan lately. I know – it’s just asking for trouble. Still, in a taste-off between two processed, mass produced versions of a dessert that was just not designed to sit for months in the refrigerated aisle, there is a clear winner. Goya’s flan was too sweet and had an overly burnt top layer, but it nevertheless retained the general taste and contours of flan. Kozy Shack’s flan, however, was indistinguishable from paste. It tasted like flavorless Kool-Aid and had the consistency of Jell-o.

Just in case you ever get a hankering for flan and, like me, are too lazy to make it yourself or to find a restaurant in which to purchase it…FYI Goya’s is the lesser of the two evils.

A quick visit to the Alps

raclette

I had been hankering for raclette ever since missing my chance to try it in France, so last Thursday I went to eat it in New York. Philippe found me a quirky little place that serves fondue and raclette – but only on winter nights they deem sufficiently cold – out of a dimly lit, speakeasy-like back room. Getting to it felt almost like going through the wardrobe into Narnia. Continue reading