Olamummy African restaurant?
- John Beadle Dec 31, 2002 11:06 AM
Rene G. mentioned this one a while back, but has anyone tried it? The menu seems quite similar to other Nigerian places in Chicago (see link).
Olamummy African Restaurant
8725 S. Commercial Ave.
Chicago, IL 60617
You're our board expert on African cuisine. We're all waiting for you to take the plunge and see how it compares to all the other places in town.
Btw, one thing that is still unclear to me is in what ways Ghanaian cuisine is different from Nigerian. There is actually a very large Ghanaian population in Chicago with active community organizations, churches etc The city also has long-standing cultural ties with Accra (the US Consulate in Accra was an early masterpiece by our Harry Weese, a great architect in a city of great architects). However, the Ghanaians seem to prefer to let the Nigerians to do the restaurant-running. Here and there you will find a Nigerian restaurant listing Ghanaian specialties or calling itself Nigerian-Ghanaian, but there are no exclusively Ghanaian restaurants at all. If I remember correctly, ReneG (in the original post) suggested that Olamummy might have a strong Ghanaian bent to it. Does the menu strike you this way as well?
Well, I'm hardly an expert on African cooking, but from what I've seen of Olamummy's menu, it seems to be pretty much Nigerian in orientation. You're right that Nigerians & Ghanaians seem to like a lot of the same things (although I've never been to Ghana). One thing I've noticed is that Ghanaians tend to like fufu made from fermented cornmeal ("kenkey") rather than pounded yam or cassava.
I don't know why it is that Ghanaians in Chicago haven't opened any restaurants (there do seem to be quite a few Ghanaian restaurants in New York, especially the Bronx). One thing about the Nigerian restaurants in the US: while the community seems to be evenly divided between Igbos and Yorubas, Nigerian restaurants here are almost exclusively run by Yorubas (although Vee Vee's in Chicago is owned by an Igbo and BQ by Edos). I asked my wife, who is Igbo, why this is so and she said, "Igbos think it's below them." I would say that Yorubas are better cooks. While Igbos and Yorubas usually eat the same dishes, the Yorubas just seem to have a knack for adding that little something extra, say shrimp in the akara or extra palm oil in the Egusi Soup. Most Nigerians will tell you that the best cooks in Nigeria are from Calabar in the Southeast.
re: John Beadle
Re: "Igbos think it's below them"
Actually, I suspect that that's the precise reason there are no Ghanaian restaurants around: most of the Ghanaians in Chicago seem to be working at professional/managerial jobs. I don't know much about Ghanaians in Chicago, but I think that it is mostly middle-class/professional immigration up to this point (much like the early waves of Indian etc immigration). There have been several sightings/reports on this board on Nigerian lunch vans in the Streeterville area. 3 or 4, perhaps more, of our Nigerian restaurants operate these: Toham, TBS, DeeVee's...They basically service/provide lunch for workers of the big hospitals (Northwestern). I am now wondering whether these hospital workers (doctors, nurses, support staff) are mostly Ghanaians or Nigerians.
Caato on Leland might be Igbo. I am guessing this only bec there are several apartment buildings in the immiediate vicinity (on Sheridan) that are almost entirely occupied by Igbos.
Re: "BQ is run by Edos"
Any regional specialties from this place? You did a report/post on BQ Root, if I remember correctly.
Re: my list of African markets
I don't know if you saw this. Scroll back a little bit to about a week or two ago and you will find it. Please add to that list (on that thread, not this one, to keep things together) if I missed anything.
(And Zim, I know you were away for a bit and don't know if you missed that final list//can you look through it and see if I missed anything? I lost the database you sent me.)
If you have not been to La Fruteria which ReneG reported about in his Commercial Ave. post, you should go. It's a wonderful little market. I kept myself awake on a couple of long stretches of work with kola nuts from here. I have not been to Unity which is just up the street. And then of course go up a little bit more, to 79th & there is that new little shop run by the Senegalese.
Malik, the guy who owns this grocery claims that all the francophone West African countries (even places like Togo) are represented substantially in this neighborhood. But I just don't see them around at all. For instance, I was at the Hothouse about a month ago for Boubacar Traore and was hoping to find hordes of Malians so that I could ask about food etc. But there were hardly any there that night.
Im certainly no expert on African food but I wrote that Olamummys menu seemed Nigerian to me. Another place I mentioned, TBS at 8910 S Commercial, had a somewhat different menu. Some dishes I took to be Nigerian but others were unfamiliar to me (unfortunately I took no notes). Its entirely possible they were Nigerian too or--who knows--maybe Ghanaian. If anyone is in the neighborhood please try to have a look at their menu (unfortunately not posted in window).
I recently went fish shopping on Commercial Ave for a holiday dinner. Fishermans Choice had some good looking, inexpensive fish, as I mentioned in my earlier post. The place that really impressed me was a small Jamaican grocery almost directly across the street (cant remember name, sorry). They had absolutely pristine yellowtail snapper for $4.50 a pound. Very limited selection but everything they had looked very fresh. Nice people too.
re: Rene G
Sorry about the Ghanaian thing. Faulty memory: should have checked the post first.
Incidentally, TBS seems to be have two locations (plus the lunch vans). Isn't the Nigerian next to New World Market also a TBS?
Rene, I found an old African market list of yours with a few addresses in places I cannot go check in the next few days. I am talking about one on Wilson etc. Do you know if they still exist? Could you kindly look through the "market list" from about a week ago and see if anything's missing?