Monday, August 11, 2008

Is this fu-real?

Saturday night, our friend Caroline hosted a birthday dinner at Saaris, a Nigerian eatery in Inglewood. She had read an article about how America is turning to fufu, and well, how can you resist?  When jen and I received the evite, our taste buds were peaked.  Being the eaters that we are, we honestly thought we'd tried everything.  So finding out about this hidden hotspot was truly enticing.  

So what is "fufu" you might ask?  The doughy starch looks and feels a lot like play-doh. (And who hasn't, at one point in time, wanted to eat play-doh?)  They basically bring a big blob of it to your table, you pinch off a bit, roll it into a ball, and then dip it in different flavors of soup or stew. (With only your right hand by the way...I guess in Africa, your left hand is commonly used for something you wouldn't want to mix with your dinner...)  It's all a little hard to imagine, right? We thought Jason & Joe made this handy how-to for fufu:  

We were interviewed afterward (by each other) about our overall experience at Saaris.  This is how it went down.  

Jamie:  So jen, what did you think of the atmosphere?  
jen:  the neighborhood was super cute. you could tell as soon as you walked in and met Jo-Jo that this was the type of place where like, a couple women were just cooking in their kitchen. real laid back. 
Jamie:  Yeah... so laid back they had a "B" rating.  Let's just say, they definitely do more cooking in the kitchen, than cleaning.  But regardless of my reluctance to eat at "B" restaurants, I'm glad I made an exception for fufu.  But I digress...
jen:  haha. i thought the music was good, too. i noticed a lot of SYTYCD songs... and oh! the olympics were on for me to sneak peeks at (men's gymnastics!). but before my eyes started wandering towards the television... i was studying the menu. and the bowl of steaming greens the gentleman behind me was eating. i wanted some of that!
Jamie: Yeah, me too.  Although I'm not really sure what it was.  I have to admit, I don't think Jo-Jo explained the menu very well.
jen: you mean like when the 'vegetarian' stew came, it had chicken??
Jamie: yep.  But I think she was thrown by having 15 white women & jason & joe sitting in her restaurant calling out their preferences & dietary restrictions.  I'm sure her regulars come in and simply eat what they're given.  But not a group of 15 lesbians.  And jason & joe.  
jen: okay. so we decided to go 'family style,' and share a little bit of everything: fufu (obvi), three different kinds of soups (for fufu dippage), and some vegetarian options (delicious black-eyed peas/rice/spinach/plantains). 
Jamie:  I thought the food was amazing.  I loved all the rich flavors and tender chicken.  But in the words of Jason..."the fufu wasn't very fu-filling."  Is that the fufu's fault?  Or ours for not ordering more?  We may never know...
jen:  yeah. don't blame the fufu. well, shoot...  i'll blame the fufu. Sorry Saaris, but i have to be honest: there were some flavors and textures i was unsure about. perhaps my friend holly was right when she said i have an "unsophisticated palate." 
Jamie:  Unsophisticated is right.  Jen doesn't eat Thai or tomatoes.  Can you really trust her judgement?  I think not.  I loved the food.  I welcome texture in my diet.  And I especially dig the idea of trying something new... which is why I give Caroline major props for thinking outside the box.  
jen:  oh, i'm right there with you - i'm down for trying new stuff too! (In fact, there's a new pizza place i've got my eye on ;)  But let's not forget my favorite part of the night -- Amanda's HOMEMADE red velvet cake!!!  yeah, no. from scratch.
Jamie:  yeah, that definitely took care of our over-zealous appetites.  

So, how did Saaris stack up?
Jamie: Total thumbs up! Loved it, and can't wait to go back and try more things on the menu!
jen: i enjoyed a couple of things A LOT. but some of it (the melon soup?) was just not fit for my consumption! and while the okra soup was tasty, the residual slime was a bit odd. i need to try some more stuff, i think. and i'd be willing to. i give it a thumbs sideways.

But regardless of our rating, I'm sure it'll be no time at all before fufu becomes 
stuff white people like.


Caroline said...

As my strangely high voice shouted at the end of the video, "Whew hew for fufu!" I have to admit, I think my enthusiasm springs mostly from the overall experience and of course the celebratory ambience of the evening. The food, although good and flavorful, would get a thumbs sideways for me as well. The fufu itself, although interesting, wasn't my favoite. The cake, well... a blazin' 2 thumbs WAY up!! Horray for my baby!

Helen said...

I love this post! I wish I was there :)

Amy A, I mean L said...

Did you record your conversation and then transcribe?? Or was that just from memory? I think you need to go to more restaurants- I like your reviews!

Theodora said...

You write very well.