FEATURE: A great day for Gambian cuisine

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute(GTHI)’s ‘Taste of The Gambia’

This past weekend, the GTHI introduced its brand new recipes aptly called Taste Of The Gambia to the public, at their Kanifing campus. The recipe were all researched, conceptualized and prepared by the GTHI; its Research Unit and its Chefs respectively. The GTHI wants to bring Gambian taste to Gambian cuisine through the use of locally available ingredients. The results of months of serious work, culminated in the tasty dinner they hosted on Saturday 26 January.

Firstly, the guests were warmly welcome to the hall by senior staff of the GTHI, all smiling and well dressed. The warmth of the welcome was a foretaste of what awaited the guests inside the dinner parlour.

The parlour was well presented. Gleaming white walls gave a sense of clarity of purpose and brilliance only white could give. The white walls exuded brightness. Just like the bevy of waiters and waitresses, all well turned out in the traditional white and black and or in the GTHI colours.

There was more colour in the décor of the tables. They were well set in white satin, with specks and sparks of brown and yolk yellow. The crockery and cutlery found a pride of place amidst this riot of beautiful colours.

What is more, deliberately, the organizers served dinner almost an hour late to make sure that their guests became hungry enough to eat all the food. And indeed, nothing was left; almost the entire dinner served was eaten!

What was available to be eaten is what I wish to end with: there were 26 different offerings on the menu carte. But this was not an a la carte dinner; it was buffet. The starter ranged from Kombo Chicken Salad to Gambian Style Humus, both thoroughly Gambian dishes made from Gambian ingredients. These were so tasty that half way into the meal, I went back to the food bay to check, and both were finished.

Also finished just half way into the dinner was the Main Course which consisted of tongue titillating offerings like Three Tubers, Foni Goat Feetaf and Bolong Sea Food Bukolo. Now the Three Tubers consisted of a mélange of yam, cassava and sweet potato, a hefty fibrous meal worth trying. The Foni Goat Feetaf has the look of a Turkish broth; but this one is tastier and has a natural flavor. The Bolong Sea Food Bukulo is inspired by Jola cuisine and is such a great munch.

But the biggest and indeed real munch was the Coconut Brittle. This dessert taste very natural. The coconut scent and sweetness is real here. And more, it came out in two very beautiful and appetizing colours. I had five lumps before I checked to find that the tray was now empty! In the Wonjo Flan, the GTHI team amazingly made a tartlet from bissap. I think they ground the wonjo and then turned into a jam type tart. This is indeed very innovative, a new way of harnessing our wonjo plant.

Another plant based offering was the Banana Infused Tea. It is tea, all steaming, but with a distinct banana flavor. This was also a major invention.

All told, this was a great night for Gambian gastronomy! The GTHI have scored excellent in this culinary experiment. I hope that stakeholders and players in Gambian culinary will quickly adopt, and as the French say vulgariser these recipes to help boost tourism and promote cultural diets for a healthy Gambia.


Hassoum Ceesay

Author: Hassoum Ceesay