March 5, 2015

Letter: Restaurant review doesn’t take Senegalese culture into account

After reading Isaac Stein’s recent review of Yassa, the Senegalese restaurant in Bronzeville ("South Side Senegalese Satisfies Stomach" [3/3/15]), I am left wondering if Stein or his editors bothered to do any research about Senegal or its cuisine before the visit. Although Stein’s meal sounds wonderful, where was the Senegalese food? No Yassa, no Mafe? No Thieboudiene—the Senegalese national dish? No awareness that the “Afro-French music” was probably Senegalese music, shockingly enough? For that, matter, what does “Afro-French” mean, exactly? French is an official language of Senegal, so a lot of Senegalese music is in French—that doesn’t make it any less Senegalese. Add that to the completely unacceptable reference to the Wolof people as a “tribe,” and you’ve got a very questionable article. Given that the College has sent students to Dakar, Senegal, twice now through the African Civilizations in Paris program, I would hope that The Maroon would at least make an effort to display at least a small amount of cultural competency. One of the draws of international cuisine, as Stein suggests in his article, is to learn about the history and culture of other people. And yet, here we have an article that suggests that learning about Senegal is not worth just 10 minutes of Googling.

—Patricia Stichnoth, Class of 2015