Thursday, May 24, 2007

Did I bring my passport?

Whoops, forgot I was still in the French Quarter. Bennachin, the west African restaurant on Royal St. , was a trip abroad without leaving home. We had bootleg music videos on tv (very big industry there--a pirate's dream), screaming babies (bravo to the parents for venturing out with tots), and more cayenne pepper dusted on my dinner than I knew what to do with. I loved the sensation of being somewhere where my usual expectations don't work. A lovely and safe way towards a reality check. And oh yeah, the food was good, too! Our appetizer of 'akara'--a samosa-like pocket filled with seasoned mashed black-eyed peas dipped in a tomato onion sauce was high on my list of faves. I particularly wanted to try it as it had migrated to Brazil with the importation of slaves from West Africa, and is a popular snack in Bahia, a place and culture I very much want to see. Dinner itself, was roast chicken, spinach, and fried plantains. In general, it was a starch heavy cuisine on display. Of particular fascination was the side of 'fufu' Anthony ordered. Billed as boiled mashed yams, I thought I knew what to expect. Wrong again. It was a perfectly smooth oval of...starch. Pearly white, nearly tasteless, and slightly more solid than mashed potatoes, it took me a minute to figure why anyone would want this dish....It begs to be the base for a highly flavored stew or a soup. Ok, mystery solved. Overall, I enjoyed the Bennachin experience and would recommend it to fans of ethnic food and other adventurous eaters.

No comments: