Commodities trader by day, restaurateur by night Marie-Claude Mendy lived in Senegal, France and Britain before coming to the U.S. in 1996. “I have always been fascinated by the United States,” she says, “the ideals, the opportunities, the mentality of ‘Work hard and get rewarded.’ ”
A lifelong foodie—her aunt was a catering chef in Dakar, her mother a passionate cook—Mendy opened Teranga (“hospitality” in Wolof) in 2009. She wanted her adopted city to taste the cuisine of her native Senegal, a cuisine that delectably marries local and international influences with dishes like accara, black-eyed pea fritters, or thiébou djeun, herb-stuffed fish in tomato sauce with broken jasmine rice pilaf and braised vegetables—considered the national dish of Senegal.
“People come to Africa and live for a period of time—whether it’s 10 years or 50 or a century—and when they leave, their flavors stay with us,” she says. “In Senegal, the influences are European and Asian and, within the European community, Portuguese, French and Italian, Arabic and Jewish. Any person from those different backgrounds could come to a Senegalese meal and be comfortable eating it because they would recognize familiar elements. The uniquely Senegalese part comes in with the spices and the ingredients.”
Teranga, 1746 Washington St., Boston (617-266-0003) terangaboston.com