The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Senegalese Food
Senegal, a former French colony located in West Africa, boasts a vibrant and flavorful cuisine. Four of the five nations with the most similar food border the Atlantic Coast. These countries all have a hot climate as well. Their specific dishes tend to have a lot of rice, cassava, and fish.
- Mali is on Senegal’s western border. Both countries are predominately Muslim and were colonized by France. Mafé, a rich peanut stew, is enjoyed in both nations, showcasing the use of groundnuts in their cuisines. Grilled meats and fish, seasoned with spices and herbs, are widely consumed as well.
- Gambia is almost entirely surrounded by Senegal, so it is no wonder that their food is similar. One striking similarity is their love for Thieboudienne, a flavorful rice and fish stew with aromatic seasonings. Domoda, a peanut stew with meat or fish, is also a beloved dish in both countries. Groundnuts, palm oil, and cassava are key ingredients in their cuisine.
- Guinea is directly to the south of Senegal. It shares many culinary traits with Senegal. Fufu and soup, a dish combining pounded starchy vegetables with a hearty soup, is popular in both countries. Grilled meats, often served with spicy sauces, are also popular. Rice is a staple in both cuisines, and Jollof Rice, a West African specialty, has variants in both countries.
- Guinea-Bissau is even further to the south of Guinea, however, unlike Guinea and Mali, it was not colonized by France, but by Portugal instead. Still, their cuisines are similar. Thieboudienne is commonly served as part of meals, often paired with flavorful stews and sauces.
- Haiti, located in the Caribbean, is very distant from Senegal, however they have similar food. The historical ties between the two nations are rooted in the transatlantic slave trade, which brought West African culinary influences to the Caribbean. In Haiti, dishes like Griot (fried pork) and Tasso (spicy turkey) are reminiscent of Senegalese grilled meats and flavorful spice blends.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Senegalese Food
The five countries with the least similar food to Senegal are in a variety of locations, from Europe to the South Pacific. Their people tend to consume far less rice than people in Senegal.
- Poland‘s diet is heavy in pork products. In contrast, pork is not as commonly eaten in Senegal, since it is predominately Muslim. Polish cuisine uses a range of condiments like sour cream, mustard, and horseradish to enhance the flavors of dishes. Senegalese cuisine uses more peanut-based sauces, palm nut sauces, and tomato-based sauces.
- Micronesia is a small country in the Pacific Ocean. It is is heavily reliant on seafood, given its location in the South Pacific. Fish and shellfish are staples, and rice is not as commonly consumed compared to Senegal. The use of coconut and taro is also prevalent in Micronesian dishes.
- Kiribati, like Micronesia, is a Pacific island nation with a diet centered around seafood, coconuts, and breadfruit. Rice is not a primary dietary staple, and the cuisine differs significantly from Senegalese food.
- Hungary is a landlocked country in Europe. Hungarian cuisine is known for its use of meats, particularly pork and beef, and its love of spicy paprika. It contrasts with Senegalese food in terms of the heavy reliance on rice and the use of peanut-based, palm nut, and tomato-based sauces in Senegal.
- Mongolia is a sparsely populated country between Russia and China. Its cold, dry climate makes it difficult to grow crops. As a result, the country relies on animal husbandry for a large portion of its food. Mongolians tend to eat much more meat from cattle, sheep, and goats than people in Senegal. They also eat more dairy products, especially yogurt.
Senegal’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Saltwater Fish, Chicken
Fruit: Watermelon, Mango
Vegetable: Onion, Peanut
Starch: Rice, Wheat
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.