What is dibiteria or dibi? Definition of the street food icon in Senegal.

Dibiterie, a Senegalese word of French origin magnified by the Hausa ethnic group.

Dibiteria , Dibi Haoussa, these words mean nothing to you? Yet it is a real institution in the land of Teranga. The invention of the word "Dibiterie" is attributed to Leopold Sedar Senghor , the illustrious poet and first President of Senegal. Indeed, the dibiterie (from the word "debit") designates these small local gargottes where meat grilled over a wood fire is served. Thus the diminutive "dibi" therefore designates the meat served there by the dibitier. Nowadays, the dibi is elevated to the level of the art of grilling. In Senegal, these are the " Hausa "who enjoy the reputation of being experts in dibi. Many of them are from the sub-region and have brought the famous spice blends which give this special taste. When it comes to grilling, each country has its specialty and its particularities:

  • Choukouya in Ivory Coast
  • Chachenga in Benin
  • Suya or Soya : Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon
  • Kamundele, Ntaba : Congo etc ...

Brochettes suya du Nigéria

The list is far from being exhaustive !

It is interesting to note that depending on the terroirs, the spice blends vary and have very different taste profiles. Combinations with different meats: mutton, lamb, beef, chicken or goat give very interesting results. Impossible to establish a hierarchy, it is a matter of taste. Some mixtures have a predominance of peanuts, for others notes of penja pepper, rings, chilli ...

Dibiterie, a reflection of the evolution of Senegalese society.

Do not be surprised if you are served your meat wrapped in a "bag of cement", it is part of the charm, not to say the ritual. In reality, it is kraft flour bags collected from friends bakers. Some will tell you that it gives you taste, for my part, I would say that we do with the means at hand. It's heat resistant and suitable for food contact so why not? Thus, when the meat is ready, it is simply kept by the fireside wrapped in order to retain the heat and above all to keep it tender and juicy.

What I love about dibiteries is eating there. Meet there in the evening after "Timiss" (evening prayer) and you will attend an anthology of Senegalese nightlife: a group of friends glued to their phones, the dredgers who invite their suitors, the fathers of families coming to each other. refuel alone, party animals ... The heat of the place will make you sweat profusely but fortunately cold drinks are never far away. With a full stomach, we become lucid again, we realize that the country is changing quickly ... too quickly. Dibiteries are more and more modern, more and more connected. My fear ? Let this simple specialty become more complex. It is our anti-fastfood, the "slow food" in short.

Some brands can sell up to 200 sheep per day! In terms of price, there is something for everyone. For example, the excellent liver dibi costs around 3000 FCFA the equivalent of 4.50 €, for less than 10 € or 10,000 FCFA we will prepare 1 kilo of meat for you! For the equivalent of 80 € you will have the luxury of eating ... a whole sheep! For Westerners these prices are derisory, nevertheless they remain quite high in a country where the average salary is € 127 monthly.

Nostalgic, the African diaspora is reclaiming its culinary culture with pride . Ethnic businesses are flourishing and purchasing behavior increasingly community-based. Sharing, the need to transmit values to the younger generations? In any case, long live Africa, long live African cuisine!

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