Anacostia International Inaugural Meal Features Senegalese Feast

Last weekend, Learning Life volunteers and D.C. families converged on a unique restaurant in metropolitan Washington D.C. for an extraordinary Senegalese feast.

Anacostia International Inaugural Meal participantsThe lunch last Saturday, generously sponsored by CoFunder, inaugurated an international meal series that is part of Learning Life’s Citizen Diplomacy Initiative (CDI).  CDI engages lower-income families in D.C. Wards 7 and 8 in live internet dialogues and project collaborations to nurture more informed, skilled, connected and caring global citizens in the long-term.  To help spread world learning in Wards 7 and 8, and to enrich CDI families’ international experience, Learning Life is this year initiating Anacostia International, which will offer CDI families free, sponsored meals and cultural conversation at metro D.C. ethnic restaurants, and country presentations free and open to the public at the Anacostia Arts Center on Good Hope Road SE in Anacostia.

Fifteen guests — including four CDI families from Wards 7 and 8 plus Learning Life volunteers and guests — enjoyed a variety of traditional dishes and drinks at Chez Dior, a well-regarded restaurant in Hyattsville, Maryland, and the only Senegalese restaurant we know of in metro Washington.  The feast included:


Bissap: a deep purple-colored juice infused with hibiscus flower

Ginger juice made with ginger root and pineapple

Pain de Singe: a sweet, silky juice made from the fruit of “monkey bread” trees

Senegalese appetizersAppetizers:

Vegetarian Nems: Vietnamese-influenced fried spring rolls stuffed with vermicelli and mushrooms, served with a “nuoc mam” sweet pepper sauce

Fataya: Senegalese patties stuffed with seasoned minced meat

Main Course Dishes:

Yassa Chicken: Chicken legs in a delectable onion sauce

Tiebouzieune: Barjack fish served with carrots, yucca, eggplant and cabbage

A variety of Senegalese dishes Lamb in a Senegalese peanut sauce with sweet potatoes and carrots.

Besides tasting Senegalese cuisine, the four participating CDI families learned through invited speakers about Senegalese cuisine, the concept of “food culture” (the foods and food behaviors of a social group, including their ways of growing, processing, cooking, eating and disposing of food), food-related social entrepreneurialism in Africa, and more generally, the importance of Africa to Americans and the world.

The four families are currently learning about Senegal through live internet Hellen Fissihaie speaks about social entrepreneurialism in Africadialogues with two Senegalese families living in the nation’s capital, Dakar.  Soon, these families will begin their first skills-building project together, creating an electronic “photovoice” album of photos they take in their own communities in answer to the question “what is the past, present and future of your community?”

As part of Anacostia International, Learning Life is planning more international meals this year at Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asian restaurants in metro Washington.   Stay tuned for more!

Thanks to Samson Williams of CoFunder for helping to germinate the idea of an international meal series, and for making this inaugural lunch possible. Thanks also to Learning Life volunteers and guests Emilie Mondon-Konan, Hellen Fissihaie of F3Global, Issa Ndiong of the Senegalese Association of the DMV, and Mamadou Fall, owner of Chez Dior, for their contributions to this inaugural Anacostia International meal!  

Interested in sponsoring a future meal, or getting involved in Anacostia International?  Contact us at




Chez Dior, a well-regarded Senegalese restaurant