Cooking Tales with Massamba Gueye

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Cooking is to storytelling what salt is to life: like storytelling, it keeps yesterday’s secrets within itself, shares them with anyone who wants to taste them, it draws its future from the past. In turn, it becomes an ingredient, a lesson, a moral, a storytelling utensil, since it cooks it like the story is universal and didactic. Living, essential, jubilant and tasty heritages!

With the teacher Massamba Gueye, storyteller, founder of the house of orality in Dakar, professor of Letters at Cheikh Anta Diop University, author. He tells on stage and on the radio: tales and legends on Radio Senegal International. He recently published Public speaking, self-regeneration of storytelling, All story, and a podcast in French and Wolof on the history of Senegal for young people.

This program is about Africa, Unesco and heritage. From the invention of thiébou dieune, rice with fish in Wolof, from a unique dish by the brilliant Penda Mbaye, cook from the village of Guet Ndar in Saint Louis – (2’58”), from this dish listed as a heritage intangible universal of Unesco in December 2021. (4’30”) From the small bowl nestled in the heart of thiébou dieune, magic of women. Storytelling and food that regulates story time.

Massamba Gueye tells us the story of this little girl and her stepmother, of the forest, of the pot, and of a heart that even birds of prey refuse to eat. Where it is a question of millet (10’17”) staple food, the backbone of food, an essential cereal accompanying the life of all West Africans. (12’16”) A grain of millet is an ear, he who has no millet has nothing, he who has millet has everything. Cooking as an essential reason for storytelling, cooking, food, sharing and teaching, because eating means making yourself available to others. (20’00”) Cooking and magic, the absolute confidence of the eater in the cook and the supposed powers, sometimes sources of fear – unfounded, which can sometimes cause harm. (25’09”) The kitchen genius. Where we speak of the mystery of the pot. And those endowed with the magic of the spoon. (27’10”) Thanking the earth that produces what we eat, cooking is spiritual. Eating is a prayer. When I’m on the radio, and on stage, my words feed the spirits, I serve a dish. What we are going to taste. It is the return of the dish that makes the meal.

Wolof is the salt of my linguistic pot

Where it is a question of what builds the tale, it is the listening and the return, as long as there is not this exchange, there is no tale. For the kitchen, it’s the same thing. (32’25”) talking while eating, and the fact that it’s not a good idea to talk with your mouth full. (36’33”) Listening to Salimto, the song that makes you hungry, the midday meal anthem and Massamba Gueye’s childhood memories. Piece of music that unites a people, broadcast every day at noon sharp on the national radio and played with notes of traditional music.

(42’01”) Transmission, culinary heritage, tales and Wolof. Who knows how to tell a child knows how to live with nature and men. ” The child does not cry for a toy he does not know exists “. Wolof, language and storytelling, how all children would be enlightened adults if storytelling and taste were taught at school from an early age, orally. Transmission, tales and cooking of living heritages.


Thiébou dieune in Saint-Louis, Senegal. Cécile Lavolot / RFI

For further

Musical programming

Jarabi by Baboulaye Cissokho

Salimto by Cheikh Serigne Fallou Mbacke

Thiakry flavored with kinkeliba


De Harouna Sow – This thiakry is one of the dishes of “ pocket recipe », the RFI podcast of original recipes made with local African products. Kinkeliba is a very popular plant in West Africa. Endowed with many virtues, its taste is reminiscent of kefir leaf, and works wonders when combined with the more earthy taste of millet.

Ingredients for 4 persons :
120g millet semolina (thiakry)
4 or 5 leaves of preferably green kinkeliba
6 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons sugar (and to taste) 2 tablespoons unsweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons orange blossom
120g of red fruits

Infuse the kinkeliba in hot water for a few minutes.
Put the millet semolina in a bowl then pour the filtered and very hot kinkéliba.
Cover for 15 mins.
In a bowl, mix the sugar, yogurt, condensed milk and orange blossom, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Assemble by placing the millet semolina at the bottom of a deep plate, cover with cream, sprinkle with mint leaves and fresh red fruits.


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