Mango, monkeys and maffe: 4th-10th August

posted Aug 23, 2012, 1:15 AM by Dinner Lady   [ updated Aug 26, 2012, 2:51 AM ]
Four and a half bellies are away and will return at the end of the month.  This is a Two and a half bellies guest post dispatched to you from our man in Africa. For more Senegalese adventures check out  

Hello, it's me again, your man in Africa. Since my initial post back in February, we've seen the birth of our son and bought land that we're developing into a sustainable eco-lodge where we'll live more or less self sufficiently. Although I'm currently up to my elbows in mud bricks, straw roofs, solar power and digging wells, I still make time for discovering new West African foods, as well as adapting some European favourites to dishes I can manage on a fire, with one pot. 

Our land already has some food sources, although we're planting more.  We have mango, palms for oil and wine and several varieties of local fruits. In the past two weeks we've planted further mango, orange, mandarin, banana, cashew, guava and avacado. We wanted to get these established quickly as the monsoonal rains are just beginning. Once we've finished building a fence, to keep the goats out, we'll also start a vegetable garden. 

We also nearly caught some protein.  A local delicacy, often eaten as a bar snack, is grilled bush rat. A couple of weeks ago, as we pushed over an old rotten palm trunk, several of these were made homeless, but faced more immediate problems when three guys chased after them with machetes. This time they lived to see another day. 
Sometimes, bar snacks are less tempting than grilled rat. Although I've read a lot about "bush meat", the eating of various wild and endangered species in West and Central Africa, it was only recently that I experienced this, accidentally.  We were visiting Djembering, a mystical and picturesque village set amongst the roots of giant kapok and fromagier trees.  Fromagier trees are so named as the French use their wood to make the boxes for cheeses such as camembert.  When I ordered something to eat in a small thatched roof bar, I asked what was available and the man replied "meat". "Okay then", I replied, thinking it would be the usual goat. A plate of small charred chunks arrived with lots of small bones. It didn't taste like goat and so I asked Khady, my partner. She said she thought it was some kind of bush antelope, but would check with the bar man. He told her it was monkey. Although it was delicious, I stopped eating, not keen to eat this distant cousin.  


Budget: 15000cfa (£19)
Actual spend: 2500cfa (£31)

I had thought it would be cheaper during Ramadan, but we eat well every evening with better fish and are also feeding four builders who are staying with us.