Per the image above, Maryland is apparently billing the New Hampshire Ave./University Blvd crossroads as the state’s international corridor. As soon as one leaves DC, New Hampshire Ave is transformed into a highly commercial thoroughfare, loaded with various international retail outlets mostly catering to the Latino community. There are however, several African grocers, restaurants (which double as night spots), and fabric shops in the area (pics inside).
Food being something I like quite a bit, and having become familiar with some African recipes while in the Peace Corps, I know the grocers the best (see below for pics). I’ll aim for a post on the restaurants soon.
Afresco foods (6339 New Hampshire Ave) is closest to me, and makes for a convenient stop when going to the impressive liquor store next door. It’s fairly small, and in addition to food also has cosmetics, fabrics, and media products. Its selection is oriented towards west Africa (true of every African grocer I know in the DMV) and one can usually hear African music playing.
Further away from DC is the Caribbean Market (7505 New Hampshire Ave). It doesn’t particularly cater to the African consumer (aside from a selection of palm oil), but I suspect that it is not only the diaspora that patronizes the establishment. It is notable for a very impressive hot sauce selection and it has prepared food to go.
The cream of the crop however is the Red Apple Farmer’s Market (7645 New Hampshire Ave). Just up the hill from the Caribbean Market, Red Apple claims to cater to Caribbean, Latino, and African tastes. While the cashiers are primarily Latino, the selection and clientele are predominantly African. There is a bulletin board listing an impressive array of events and it is the best stocked of any African grocer I have visited in the DMV. You’ll also have a good shot at meeting some interesting individuals at the bus stop outside.
- The butchery: boasts an array of whole fish and hard to find meat (and cuts of meat) such as goat and cow heel.
- Produce: despite the name, the fresh produce section is not that extensive, although it excels in comparison to Afresco. The selection of tubers is pretty substantial, and the fresh greens are well complemented by a large number of frozen items. For those looking to make west African dishes – cassava leaf, potato leaf, bitter ball, and kitteley can all be found here.
- Dry goods: There are all sorts of west African seasonings available. Many are produced by local African food companies, although Maggi and Royco are also available. I’ve never been to Nigeria, but most of the seasonings (Egusi seeds, etc.) appear to be geared toward that country’s dishes. The selection of dried fish is striking. I am a strong fan of the fried fish & shrimp mix. There are also a variety of rice options and flours for your meals foundation.
- Beverages: For enterprising individuals, Red Apple stocks a variety of cordials for those of you who wish to make your own drinks. Most of the beverages appear to be of Caribbean origin. One can find the British drink Vimto, which has a strong presence in Liberia. My personal favorite is the Caribbean peanut punch, which makes an excellent (though perhaps not healthy) breakfast substitute.
Frozen Veggies at Red Apple
Red Apple Tubers