About the food of The Gambia

This week we’re cooking The Gambia.

Not Gambia. The Gambia. I like that. It has presence. Has power. Did you know Facebook was originally The Facebook? It’s true. I saw it in the movie “Social Network.”

Edited to add: It’s THE Social Network. I sort of love that I made this error while writing about THE Gambia.

So, back to The Gambia. Despite her grandiose name, this country is teeny tiny – the smallest country in Africa – 30 miles wide at it’s widest. She looks rather like a wiggly worm inching into the continents western coastline, divided by the Gambia river and dividing Senegal.

Thanks to the river’s fresh waters, Gambia has bountiful produce and abundant fishing.

Staples are fairly typical of Western Africa – peanuts, peppers, tomatoes, green onions (called mandinka) and more exotic fare like fermented locust beans (do you remember these funky, blue-cheese tasting tidbits, from when we cooked Babenda? [Recipe] Ah, memories.) Well, much like Burkina Faso, people from The Gambia also enjoy bitter greens cooked with strong flavors, especially peanut butter [Recipe].

There must be far fewer upset tummies in The Gambia because fresh ginger root is  everywhere. Grated and ground, you can slurp it up in spicy, cold drinks (rather like extra strong, flat ginger ale) [Recipe], or mixed with custard and fruit – like tropical, sweet mango [Recipe].

Fish market and bakery in The Gambia

Photos: Steve Shaw, CIA World Factbook,  IkiwanerAtamari
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  1. I just love reading this blog because I love to travel and eat. That is why I like Anthony Bourdain No Reservations and Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods. But this is more personal, Sasha do you think you will write a book when you are done?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Hi Lakisha – thank you! I’m glad you enjoy it. I would enjoy writing a book and/or cookbook. I’m totally open to the possibilities. We’ll see where the journey takes us!

      • Jessica Bennett says:

        When I first saw you were doing this, I thought a book made the right next step. It won’t be as rich as the blog, but it could be great for people who don’t use the Internet and people who just like reading cookbooks.

  2. Jessica Bennett says:

    By the way, the movie is “THE Social Network”, not just “Social Network”. Just thought it’s funny that you make a point of calling the country by its proper name but not the movie. Of course a country is far more important than a movie! But it reminds me, I want to see that movie. I’d also like to go to The Gambia. Guess which one I’ll do first?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Jessica, that kills me. I’d like to say it was all an elaborate scheme to see who was paying attention but… well, yeah.. not really. I’m guessing you’ll see the movie first – it was fascinating btw.

  3. Fascinating, never knew this about Gambia– oops, i mean, The Gambia! Such an oddly-shaped and placed country. Can’t wait to see the food…

  4. Hope it didn’t seem like I was just interested in the Finnish food, have been keeping up with your blog since. The book/cookbook sounds like a great idea.

  5. So does this mean you’re going to become THE Global Table Adventure? Nah, didn’t think so. You have presence and power without the THE, thanks to mouthwatering pictures, otherworldly recipes and lots of maps proving to me all the things I never knew I never knew!

  6. The Gambia is sometimes just called Gambia. But I realized just now that there is one country in the world that is ALWAYS preceded by “the”. We are in it right now!!!

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