>> [CLOSED] Fatima African Restaurant | Eat the World NYC

08 March 2010

[CLOSED] Fatima African Restaurant



To walk into Fatima on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights is to walk squarely into a very vivid olfactory memory of Western Africa. The smells of of the markets, the beaches, the fish are all contained within somehow. The bleak, greasy room is even a reminder of the working luncheonettes in capitals like Conakry or Dakar. I almost slipped on the floor as I took my seat, but even that added to the charm.

During lunch, the Guinean owners will point you in the direction of the buffet, a tremendous value for what is on offer. Depending on what you select, it is either $4, $5 or $6. I was not sure if this price was per plate or unlimited, so make sure to heap your first serving as to satisfy your needs.

The mafé (above, right) somehow exceeded those I had tried in Senegal and Mali, and when I asked about its origins in other countries, the friendly proprietor said the dish reaches as far as Nigeria. This version was very peanut-heavy, making it quite hardy and not as tangy as some I have tried. The beef with cassava leaf (left) was a bit of an afterthought as far as I was concerned, but the sharp greens were the perfect counterpoint and acted somewhat as a side dish for this meal.

As I ate and watched MSNBC on the television in front, I watched the cook visit the freezer near me every once in a while to grab frozen meats, cuts of fish, and packaged vegetables. She would throw at least one smile my way during each visit, as would other customers. It makes the experience all the more enjoyable when you are welcomed so kindly into this brief West African lunch.

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