bëgg: to want

uma: first-person negation

bëgguma: I don’t want

Honestly, I love most of the meals in Senegal. Certainly, I can eat all of them! But there are only a few that I don’t like, ranging from tolerable to utterly despised when they arrive in front of me on the plate.

Every Monday night at my house, we have porridge, called laar. And I do not like it. The grain base varies from orzo pasta (I cannot stand this in porridge) to rice (tolerable) to millet (preferred). It is boiled in water and milk (meaaw) until it reaches a sludgy texture, but this alone I could eat. It is only when my mother adds lait caillé (extremely sweetened milk, with of course lots of sugar dumped in) that I cannot stand it. The sickly sweetness of the canned milk, combined with the sludgy texture of porridge is not my ideal dinner—I can never finish my bowl. However, I have learned to work around it, by telling my mother not to put too much sweetened milk in mine!

The other meal I cannot stand, even more than the porridge, is the couscous with fish paste. The couscous here in Senegal is millet-based, unlike the pasta-like couscous in Morocco. It is extremely dry and to me, tastes like gravel or sand in my mouth. But worse is that here, traditionally, the couscous is topped with this gray, extremely fishy paste! Nothing is more disappointing for me than this meal, although luckily I’ve only had it twice.

Of course, there are a few ingredients I don’t look forward to either. Anytime my family uses oysters, as they are usually formerly frozen and detestably fishy—this coming from a girl who loves shellfish! I also don’t like the dried fish we sometimes have to resort to, as it also is extremely fishy. And sometimes the meal is unbearably salty.

Yet, I would like to stress, my complaints about the food here are few. For the most part, Senegalese food is incredible—bursting full of rich, deep flavors. I know I will certainly miss it when I leave—or at least miss most of it!

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