When husband and wife Fola and Jummy Sodade relocated to Springfield, Missouri, they noticed a problem. It was very hard to find their favorite grocery items from their home country, Nigeria, and some items they couldn’t find at all. They realized they weren’t alone.

“Many of the Africans here are professionals,” Fola says. “We have a lot of doctors, nurses and professors, and the thing is they are so busy that they can’t find what they grew up eating.”

Rather than saying goodbye to some of their favorite childhood dishes, the couple decided to do something about it. In September, they opened Jums African Market, where they continuously bring new flavors to Springfield with each shipment they receive. According to Fola, they receive most of their inventory from importers based all over America. These importers work directly with businesses across Africa.

Brightly colored cans sit in pyramid stacks and packages of flour line the store shelves. You can also purchase perishable goods like frozen goat and fish, yams and plantains. Although customers who are unfamiliar with African cuisine might not recognize the majority of the store’s items, Fola and Jummy are happy to help provide pointers. “A lot of people come here to try new things, but they also come here to learn,” Fola says.

Fola says a great beginner dish is the egusi  soup, which is made of ground melon seeds. To prepare the dish, add water and palm oil to the ground melon seed mix. Then, toss in ingredients of your choosing. He recommends habanero peppers, fish and spinach.

Jums African Market, 1410 E. Kearney St., Suite G, Springfield, Missouri, 417.450.8011, facebook.com/jumsafromart

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Tessa is a freelance writer and photographer in Springfield, Missouri. She enjoys the finer things in life like cappuccinos and free samples.

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