Posted by: kristinej | July 31, 2009

July 31st

I thought I would take some time to write a bit about the food, since that is one the biggest differences.  First of all, the way that they eat is totally different.  People don’t have kitchens, they have these little charcoal stoves that they cook everything on.  All of the cooking and eating is done outside . The food is served in a large bowl on the ground, and after everyone rinses their hands with water, they eat together out of the bowl.  Men and women eat separately.  Each person has their own section of the bowl and you eat until you are full and then say “A barika” to someone older than you, which basically how you show that you’re finished eating.  My family usually gives me my own plate with a spoon, but I told them that I want to start eating with them around the bowl, so we did that yesterday for lunch.  It takes some practice eating rice and sauce with your hands, and they immediately offered to get me a spoon, but I said no, I need to practice!

For breakfast I have moni, which is a porridge made from millet (with lots of sugar added).  Lunch is usually rice and sauce.  My favorite is yassa, which is made with onions.  Tigadegena is the peanut butter sauce and nzame is a senegalese dish which is basically fried rice.  There is also a leafy green sauce that is pretty slimy and not my favorite.  Often they serve small pieces of fish or beef with the rice and sauce. 

Dinner can also be rice and sauce, but usually it is something slightly different.  They have a couple of things similar to couscous that they serve with a sauce, or a typical Malian food that many people don’t like is toh.  It’s hard to explain, but it’s got a very strange consistency and while I don’t mind having a bit, I can’t eat tons of it.  Another option is macaroni, which is basically oily spaghetti, usually served with beef.  Once in a while we’ll have salad on the side, and they often give me this sour milk drink as a sort of dessert.

Most food is bought at the market or at small vendors along the road.  In the market you can find fresh and dried fish, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, mangoes, and other fruit.  Vendors will sell bags of rice with fish, or bread with onions or sweet potatoes.  There are lots of fried snack options, like shofroufrou, which is this fried bean thing, or just sweet fried dough.  I really like the sweet potato fries.  They also sell peanuts everywhere.  There are small boutiques along the main roads where they have refridgerators and you can buy cold drinks and yogurt.  I usually go to a boutique near our office and get bread and cheese or I even found cereal and milk.  In Bamako there is a French grocery store where you can find all sorts of things (for a price), so if I’m ever craving something I can probably find it there.  And there are American restaurants in Bamako too, which we have gone to for special events.



  1. Kristine,

    I am enjoying your blog, sounds like your having a great experience as well as learning an awful lot about the rest of the world. Stay safe and I will keep reading your blog to stay up to date with what you are doing. Saw Andrew and the ASP team recently, sounds like they had another great trip.

    Gary Spear

  2. hmm…interesting information! I love reading your blog. So are the crops at the market expensive or are they comparable to here? By the way, what is the currency there?! have a great weekend, miss you!!
    ❤ Al

  3. Kristine:
    While reading your blog, I try to imagine what you are experiencing. Sometimes we forget how spoiled we are here. In reading your blog about Senegal, I remembered that I have a friend -Denise Pelafas – whose son Nick Pelafas is in Senegal. He is in the process of building a library in Senegal (or somewhere near there) Let me know if you ever have the occasion to wonder his way. How cool would it be to meet up with a local person! Nick is 28, graduated from Uni, did his undergraduate at McGill Univ in Montreal and his master’s at U of I in African Studies. He’s been in Africa since last Nov. His sister Joanna just visited him in June for 3 weeks & his mom Denise is planning her trip this Fall/Winter. I think you two would have alot to talk about. Please continue to be safe & keep writing. Love, Betsy

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