Bourdain’s Field Notes

SENEGAL, May 2016—We live in a time I never thought I would live to see, where, in the United States of America, a nation founded on the principles of religious freedom, we are actually having a national conversation, in public, about the efficacy of banning an entire strata of humanity from our shores on the basis of their faith.

So let this episode in Senegal, an African nation which is over 90% Muslim, serve as both rebuke and example. It is a country that proudly elected as their first president after independence, a Christian—because they felt, in their best judgment, that regardless of his faith, he was the best person for the job.

It is a country that defies stereotypes and expectations at every turn.

Emerging from French colonial times as a functioning multicultural, multilingual, extraordinarily tolerant society.

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Travel like Bourdain

There are places that snap you out of your comfortable worldview, take your assumptions and your prejudices, and turn them upside down. They lead you to believe that maybe there is hope in the world. Senegal is one of those places.


Thiof: Senegal’s signature fish.

Beef mafe: Stew thickened with ground peanuts.

Thiebou Jenn: Rice with fish; Senegal’s national dish.

Know Before You Go

Senegal’s population is more than 90% Muslim, but the nation’s first elected president after its independence from French colonial rule, Léopold Sédar Senghor, was a Catholic.

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