Best Place to Buy Pounded Yams (2001)
African Variety Food Store
"The world was silent except for the shrill cry of insects, which was part of the night, and the sound of wooden mortar and pestle as Nwayieke pounded her foo-foo," writes Chinua Achebe in his 1959 novel Things Fall Apart. He is describing a scene as basic to traditional Nigerian life as the beat of the udu drum -- the pounding of yams into the glutinous mass known as foo-foo or fufu. African Variety Food Store offers big beautiful yams for those with time and energy to pound. For others, this purveyor of West African goods sells a powdered form of yam (as well as cassava and plantain) that can be whipped up in minutes into a delicious mound of fufu for dipping in soups. The smell of dried fish pervades the establishment, which is tucked amid Chinese businesses in a sprawling strip mall. In addition to the desiccated cod, shrimp and bony bonga fish, one can find cans of palm oil, melon seeds, and a variety of herbs and vegetables that provide the city's thriving African population with tastes of home.