Senegal is a semitropical country; warm, sunny and colorful. The food is unique, very flavorful and rich in colors and spices. It is composed of an extremely rich and interesting variety of dishes. The food has been influenced by many countries including France, Portugal, and those of North Africa, and also different ethnic groups. The influence of French food in Senegal is evident, yet the food has a quality of its own.
Rice is the main starch, with couscous of northern Africa also being a great favorite. Senegal borders the Atlantic Ocean making fish an important staple. Chicken, lamb, pea, eggs, and beef are also used in cooking. Pork is not used as the country is largely Muslim. Peanuts as well as sweet potatoes, lentils, black-eyed peas and various vegetables are used in cooking. Meats and vegetables are typically stewed or marinated in herbs and spices, and then poured over rice or couscous or simply eaten with bread.
Due to the colonial French rule most Senegalese start their day with bread. In large towns there are also croissants and pastries for breakfast.
Main meals often consist of rice dishes. Couscous and millet also form the foundation of many dishes, with protein provided by meat, peanuts or fish. The favourite national dish is "thié boudienne", chunks of fish stuffed with herbs, served on a bed of rice and vegetables. Another popular meal is "yassa poulet", grilled chicken marinated in an onion and lemon sauce.
Popular drinks include mint tea - the first cup drunk slightly bitter, the second with more sugar and the third very sweet, palm wine, which is drunk either fresh or fermented and home-roasted coffee with pimento and fruit juices. One of the most common drinks is "bissap", which is made from hibiscus, sugar and water. Ginger juice is also popular.
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