woman holding tomatoes

The Table of My Ancestors: Week 17 (Senegambia & Guinea – Senegal)

Perhaps the biggest shock from my DNA results came from seeing that a small portion of my ancestry has roots in Senegambia and Guinea. This area is located in West Africa, the very same place I spent nearly five years living and working in non-profit work. Obviously, I don’t exactly look like I come from West Africa, which has spurred me on to do a whole bunch of research about race, genetics, and the like. Now, of course I cannot be sure, but it would seem quite likely that my European ancestors likely colonized my ancestors in North and West Africa, procreated, and that led to…well, me.

I do know quite a bit about West Africa from my time spent there, and its cuisine is definitely in my comfort zone. Still, I wanted to find adaptations to well-known recipes, like jollof rice or stew, to see how it varies in different countries. That led to two delicious recipes I found from Senegal that I made this past week. The first is mafe, a Senegalese stew with a peanut butter and tomato base that is served over rice. I also discovered bissap, a popular drink from Dakar, the capital of Senegal, that is made with mint and a homemade hibiscus syrup. I made both this past week, and they were absolutely amazing! A couple of my friends, upon seeing my social media posts, were inspired to make their own versions of mafe, and it made me so happy to see others enjoying this incredible cuisine!

Bissap — with homemade hibiscus syrup, sparkling water, and fresh mint
A glass of bissap and a bowl of mafe