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mid-week Connect: 4/24/24 ~ Food origins across cultures

Greetings and Happy Midweek!

I thought we would explore the topic of food, and since it’s such a broad subject, let’s focus on the origins of favorite dishes. We’ll touch on other aspects in future Connects. This origins topic fits nicely into the Collaborative component of our Global SKILLs PROACTive Framework because it can take the efforts of many to figure out the origin of even just one dish! [*]

Senegal has a favorite dish of rice, fish and veggies which, in the language of its origin, is called “tcheb bu djenn” (literally ‘rice with fish’, please excuse any misspelling!). The Wolof people were the first to create this delicious meal using rice, a staple for many people groups in the region, and sea bass often bought from fishermen as their huge sea-going canoes brought in the daily catch. The veggies (tomatoes, tiny bitter eggplants, carrots) were either grown in household gardens or bought each morning in local markets. Fondly known as just “tcheb”, this dish is eaten frequently and is often the first dish newcomers are offered. All the years I lived in Senegal, I enjoyed it including regional variations when we lived among the Jola in the south or when we were in the city.  

Fast forward to a few years ago when I attended a pot luck supper at a church in Washington, DC and one of the dishes was served as “Jollof Rice”. “Ah Ha! I thought - there must be a Senegalese person present” and I asked around, eager to meet them. Imagine my surprise when I met the cook, who actually was from Sierra Leone - but who proudly said this was one of their favorite local dishes. Hmm…

And then more recently, I became aware of Jollof Rice being claimed by other African countries as their own local concoction. Hmm…

Well, from my personal (slightly biased) point of view.  - the Name “Jollof” seems to seal the origin deal (Wolof!!) whatever the local version being enjoyed wherever! 

More objectively and looking at this collaboratively, many have done field-based research (including eating lots of good Tcheb and Jollof Rice, I am sure!) And the more interesting cross-cultural origin story is that this dish has certainly taken on a new life of its own in many other places even to the point of perhaps indicating a new place of origin (or two!). When studied and enjoyed collaboratively and cross-culturally, favorite dishes become all the richer for their increased exposure and availability.

How about for you ~ what’s a favorite dish origin you might like to explore, realizing you might find some unexpected cross-cultural complexity!

Share about that with a friend or note it here. 

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for more of this…

And if you are ever near a Senegalese restaurant all of which serve Tcheb, or other West African restaurant serving Jollof Rice, don’t miss the opportunity! 

Thanks for being part of this Connect community.

Until next week,




Related Connects: 11/25/20 - pumpkins; 4/28/21 - tea; 6/22/22 - wrong language or…?; 2/15/23 - bread  (scroll down here to the date of the post)

[*] Through my business Global SKILLs and several partner subsidiaries I offer unique cross-cultural consulting and training including:

3 Dimensional Dynamics Model: 

1st dimension = HOME ; 2nd dimension = HOST ; 3rd dimension = HARBOR 

PROACTive Framework:                                                                                                               

PRO = PROfile, PROcess, PROgram

ACT = Applications, Collaborations (which we explored this week) and Transformations

~ contact me for more information on this model and these strategies and how you might use them in your current programming: 

2024 ~  Celebrating 40+ years of working in 

intercultural communications and global community building

“It takes a community to build a community”

Please Note: this is copyrighted content. 

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