Before I even arrived in Ghana, I had heard about fufu. I researched it, watching videos on how it’s made and how it’s consumed. When people meet me and hear that I am new to Ghana, one of their first questions is always “have you tried the fufu?” Since my arrival, I have been waiting patiently for my first fufu encounter.
Fufu is a a dish consumed through much of West and Central Africa. There are different variations in each country. In Ghana, it is basically cassava and plantain, pounded together into a thick paste, or dough like ball. The fufu is then served with different kinds of soup. You eat it with your hands, taking a small piece in your right hand making an indentation and then using it to scoop up the soup.
Last night I was invited over to a colleagues’ house for dinner. When I walked in, I heard telltale pounding sounds coming from the back. I knew right away that my first fufu experience was imminent.
The food arrived, and it was time to eat. In front of me was a ball of fufu in one bowl, and another bowl with a tomato/onion soup and a piece of chicken on the bone. I was informed that the chicken was “fresh” – meaning that not long before my arrival, it was living and breathing. I was instructed to take a spoon and scoop the soup into the bowl with the fufu. After that, I was given a lesson on the proper hand technique for fufu consumption (though I’ve been told there are different ways of doing it.) The most important thing is that you don’t chew the fufu. I’m not sure yet why this is… just don’t do it.
Apparently fufu is a food that you either love or hate. After last night’s experience, I am fully converted to fufu fandom. For the record, I have also discovered that I I LOVE eating with my hands. Love it. Every time I scoop up a handful of stew with my hand, I feel like a kid doing something they’re not supposed to.