The African savanna is the most likely birthplace of the human race, and also where grains were first harvested for consumption. Still today, more than sixty varieties of wild cereals are harvested and consumed, as well as many domesticated species such as rice, millet and fonio.
Salted millet couscous from Fadiouth Island is the result of the union of traditional grains, cultivated since time immemorial in the inland areas, and the sea.
Situated just off the mainland, Fadiouth is made entirely of seashells and the island's village can be reached from Joal (150 km south of Dakar) along a long wooden footbridge. The Seerer, the indigenous people who live here, have always been the main producers of Sunnà millet and make their living from agriculture and fishing in the sea and lagoon.
The production process for salted couscous is long and laborious, requiring at least two days to obtain a quality product. After finishing their domestic chores, the women come together in the evening to prepare the millet to make the flour. The grain is husked in a wooden mortar, sifted and washed in the sea. It is then ground (using electric mills or by hand) and the resulting flour is dampened with seawater and worked by hand to turn it into tiny couscous pellets, which are covered with the dry flour to keep them from sticking and then sifted.
This process continues until all of the flour has been turned into tiny beads of couscous, which are then stored in traditional gourds, covered with a cloth and left to ferment overnight. In the morning the women add powdered baobab leaves, used as a binder, and then cook the couscous.
Currently, Fadiouth couscous is only consumed and sold locally, and generally while still fresh. The most typical local dish is salted couscous with a sauce of mangrove flowers, peanuts and meat or shellfish.