ISO: African Snacks
Help! My friend is leaving for the Congo this weekend and some other friends and I are throwing her a mini African themed farewell party. Would anyone have an inkling where to get African snacks in Manhattan? Congolese would be even better.
Thanks in advance!
I've been to the West African markets in Midtown and vaguely recall seeing fufu (a Congolese staple) in a refrigerated case, but not much else. You may find the store useful as a source for cassava, palm oil and African peanut butter to prepare your own dishes for a potluck-style party.
I'm afraid it may not help you for your party, but I have seen sidewalk vendors selling snacks (such as slightly-sweet fried dough balls similar to donut holes) and African drinks like tamarind juice, ginger beer, and bissop (sorrel) juice outside the Masjid Aqsa Islamic Center on Frederick Douglass Blvd between 115th & 116th in warmer weather on Saturdays. (The B/C subway station is right on the corner at 116th there.) I don't know whether they are also out there when it's as cold as it is now.
You might also consider calling some of the African restaurants in Harlem and asking about ordering takeout orders of snacks like aloko/alloco (fried ripe sweet plantains), pasteles (spicy fish patties), or nem (kind of like thai spring rolls). (Some of the restaurants only serve pasteles and nem on specific days on the weekend, and often run out of them early, but might be willing to make a special order for you at other times if you make arrangements ahead of time).