Then and now

Picture in your mind a map of Dakar’s grocery stores. Now erase the CityDia stores, delete the Casinos including Sea Plaza and Dakar City, get rid of the Hypermarché Exclusive on the VDN and you can forget Dior Diarama.

This is what grocery shopping looked like when I first moved to Dakar in 2003. The store on the Corniche known as Le Parcours/Chez Hoballah/French Fry Store actually opened my second year here and it was a BIG DEAL, even though at the time it did not include the expansion they’ve since added. But it was THE place to go because you could get pretty much everything in one place. Ooh là là. 

I tell you all this for two reasons.

First, all old-timers have to tell stories about how bad they had it in the old days and how we had to walk up-hill in the snow both ways to buy bread. Right? Except our equivalent was taking a trip to Banjul to buy Oreos and Dr Pepper imported from the UK.

Secondly, I want you to understand why I’m so excited about the food scene in Dakar. In just the last three years, Dakar’s grocery stores have exploded! I mean that in a good sense, of course. The choices, availability and growth are just incredible.

I mean, yeah, it’s incredibly frustrating that CityDia no longer carries Cheddar cheese. But at least they had it for a while! Which means it may come back, or maybe another chain’s store manager will read Dakar Eats see that we all really want and start carrying it.

I know that doing our weekly grocery shopping at Dior Diarama is just not a good option for the family budget, but at least there’s a place I can go with a 5,000cfa bill in my hand and walk out with a bag full of American goodness.

(Ooh – that reminds me of a good old-timer story. One time, back before the liquids ban, I had a friend visiting from the US and had her bring me a 6-pack of Diet Coke in her carry on. And up until last year, I still had people mail me Fritos from the US for my birthday and Christmas.)

And who would have imagined a year ago that Presse Café would be here? A real North American coffee shop with actual coffee drinks and bagels.

So the moral of this rambling post is that while the food scene in Dakar isn’t exactly like ‘back home’ and certainly has its challenges and frustrations, just stay tuned and don’t lose hope… Delicious new developments are popping up all the time!

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