Saturday, April 3, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE FOODS IN LITTLE SENEGAL, NYC

Gluten free shopping in Le Petit Senegal? Mais, bien sur! Along West 116th Street, from 7th to 8th Avenues, give or take a block, you will find many gluten-free treasures, but they won't be the kind you usually see on gluten-free online shopping sites or at Whole Foods or other health stores, for that matter. Though most shop owners seem to speak at least some English, any French you have will be useful.

Famous along the street is the African Market, with its wide selection of clothing, sculpture and craft items. The cloth pictured below is African, bought in Manhattan, though not from this particular market. But perhaps your time would be best spent in the food shops, which carry products that are almost never found beyond ethnic neighborhoods like this one.  Above is millet couscous, millet flour made into small balls approximately the size of Israeli couscous, but gluten free, which the Israeli version is not. Pictured below is couscous made of rice.  See the slideshow for more products, including plantain flour, millet flour and yam-coconut flour.

The mix of cultures in such a small neighborhood is part of its charm. Though Senegalese make up the largest African group, there are also immigrants from the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mali and Guinea. On the edges of Petit Senegal are African-American and Latino communities, so if you walk the length of 116th, one minute you can catch sight of bingo game in progress in a local iglesia basement and next you're passing clothing stores playing the latest urban music hits on WBLS or Hot 97. You definitely won't be bored, and for the price of a subway or bus ride (or walk, if you live nearby) you'll feel you've been on vacation to another country, or another continent.

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2 comments:

Shelley said...

You are so lucky to live in such a diverse cultural area. Hopefully I will be able to come up to NYC for some leaser time and we can get together and do some exploring.

G.F.Veg said...

i've lived in nyc almost all my life and i don't even feel i've scratched the surface of the many different culinary traditions there are here!