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Google Doodle Celebrates West Africa’s Jollof Rice

Friday’s Google Doodle spotlights jollof rice, a common West African dish whose roots can be traced back seven centuries that’s sparked fierce rivalries among neighboring countries.

The dish — a mixture of long grained rice mixed with simmered tomatoes, onions, peppers and regional spices — is often served with fish as the evening meal, although it’s also enjoyed at other times of the day, with fish being substituted for chicken, beef or goat. Friday’s animated Doodle shows the popular one-pot meal being prepared, one ingredient at a time, along with the desired central meat.

The dish’s name and origins stretch back to the 14th century, when the Jollof Empire ruled parts of modern-day Senegal, The Gambia and Mauritania.  It’s also known as benachin in Gambia and Senagal.

Each nation has its own variant of the dish, with each country vying to be known as home to the best jollof in a friendly rivalry among nations known as the Jollof Wars. The competition is particularly sticky and steamy between Nigerians and Ghanaians, which have distinct cooking styles, creating a cultural phenomenon that’s spawned many viral music videos, songs and cook-offs.

This isn’t the first time Google has put food in the Doodle spotlight. In 2017, Google cooked up a slideshow to honor the rice noodle. In 2019, it created an animated Doodle featuring falafel.  And in 2021, Google celebrated pho, the aromatic and savory soup made popular in Vietnam.

But if you would rather play with your food than read about it, Google baked up an interactive pizza puzzle game last year that challenges your slicing skills.

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