We are happy to report that there is a new pan-African grocery store in Cleveland, Koulou’s Marketplace, which opened in 2020 in the Ohio City neighborhood (4700 Bridge Ave., Cleveland OH 44102). You can find dry, frozen and fresh foods from all across Africa at Koulou’s, alongside an assortment of American, European and Middle Eastern goods. The shop is run by Siba and Kolou Beavogui a Liberian/Senegalese couple who usually preside over the shop’s daily operation.
Koulou’s is a relatively small store with a few rows of dry goods, fresh vegetables in the back of the store, and a particularly exhaustive frozen goods section: including hard-to-find Egyptian molokhia leaves and Nigerian ugu leaves. Though there is a focus on African goods, the selection is wide-ranging: we went in looking for a few specific items that we figured would likely be available: fufu (fermented cassava) and palm oil. Not only did we find those items, we ended up getting a ton more interesting stuff, which is really to best part of visiting any grocery store. Fortunately, Koulou’s is very organized and easy to navigate, making browsing easy.
On our latest visit, we bought a bag of Cameroonian groundnut sweets (nuts covered in caramelized sugar), one of the most popular street snacks in Cameroon (groundnuts are related to, but distinct from peanuts) to snack on at the beach. Other recent finds include the incredibly umami Shito pepper sauce from Ghana (which M now puts on everything), and Hawaij spice seasoning, a East African spice mix we plan to utilize when making recipes from In Bibi’s Kitchen. Among the other ingredients we spied were Egusi seeds – from a gourd- used to make the iconic Nigerian dish, Egusi stew, giant bags of cassava flour and rice, various types of tahini, international canned beans, teas from around the world, and bulk spices. We are excited to visit Koulou’s again soon and unearth some more treasures.