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Fufu: Popular dish from Ghana


28 Nov 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 28 Nov 2022 09:53:14
Fufu: Popular dish from Ghana

Perhaps, if there is one reason why we refuse to adopt a less laborious way to pound fufu, it is because we believe it is worth the sweat. For those Ghanaians who eat fufu, they love it to the morsel and the toil of preparation seems fair effort for the yummy reward.

Of course, one is aware of these modern, pre-made innovations but frankly, what has powder got to do with it? Fufu is about boiled tubers and topam-topam (Ghanaian folklore name for the rythmic sound of the fufu pounding process), that’s all.

In Ghana, we express serendipity by saying that ‘fufu has fallen into soup.’ One does not wish for a more palatable situation. Whether done with yam, cassava, cocoyam, plantain or combinations of these, fufu provides a delicious, full meal for many Ghanaians. It also allows us to show our zest for life. Just consider this: a sweaty encounter with an ‘asanka’ of fufu, overran with hot, delicious soup- crabs, snails, fish and all. The ginger and pepper and prekese (woody, banana-shaped spice) get the nose to run, still the swallowing continues unabated. While the right hand is ferrying the fufu in, the left hand busily wipes the sweat, the phlegm and the tears. Occasionally, the soup trickles from the palm down to the elbow but the mouth still follows this and actually sucks the drip at the tip of the elbow… This may not exactly be your style but that is what the love of fufu can do to folks.

Fufu is important because it is one of the most widespread staple foods in Ghana. From the coastal belt through the forest regions to Savannah-land fufu is a staple in its various forms. Boiled tubers are pounded until they turn gummy, soft, and uniformly textured. But there is a price to pay. Fufu preparation takes much time. It is energy demanding and produces considerable noise.

Owing to these reasons, fufu is not a meal that one person would ordinarily prepare. At home, fufu effectively becomes a family affair. Contrast this to a saucepan of rice prepared for the family. All day long, each person can come in and dish their portions. Not so with fufu. By constitution, fufu goes bad in a couple of hours. What this means is that the food must be faced and cleared like the football penalty event.

In Ghana the day most associated with the fufu phenomenon is Sunday. There isn’t much activity and everyone is home. Fufu thus becomes a ceremonial dish, much like the English family’s Sunday Roast Dinner. Because of these connections, when the Ghanaian says he or she is looking forward to the weekend, fufu is likely to be part of the motivation.

In rural or traditional societies, however, fufu is a daily situation. Indeed, there are communities in which (like bird song at sunset) evenings are marked with a symphony of fufu sound splash blaring from every household.

Fufu pounding comes with a skill set and style of its own. It involves repeatedly thrusting the pestle into the mortar. The complementary technique has to do with massaging or moderating the gummy paste in the mortar with the bare hand.

The moderation involves, adding up boiled tubers one at a time, softening with water, turning and removing lumps (Lumps are a curse and disrupt the smoothness of the fufu eating experience). The skill set also includes regulating the intensity of each pestle hit. Like a choir director, the moderator instructs the pounder to hit hard or land softly. Finally, the moderator smoothens the fufu, cuts the portions and serves them out.

 

Kalahari Review