Fufu, variants include foofoo, foufou, foutou or fu fu, is a staple food of West and Central Africa. It is a thick paste or porridge usually made by boiling starchy root vegetables in water and pounding with a large stick and bowl until the desired consistency is reached. In the French-speaking regions of Cameroon and Mali, fufu is sometimes called couscous (couscous de Mali or couscous de Cameroun), not to be confused with the Moroccan dish couscous.

In Western Africa, foofoo is usually made from cassava, yams, and sometimes combined with cocoyam, plantains, or maize. In Ghana, fufu is mostly made from boiled cassava and unripe plantain beaten together, as well as from cocoyam, and yam. Currently, these products have been made into powder/flour and can be mixed with hot water to obtain the final product hence eliminating the arduous task of beating it in a mortar and pestle. In Central Africa, fufu is often made from cassava, as is the Liberian dumboy. Fufu can also be made from semolina, rice, or even instant potato flakes. Often, the dish is still made by traditional methods: pounding and beating the base substance in a mortar with a wooden spoon. In contexts where poverty is not an issue, or where modern appliances are readily available, a food processor may also be used.

In Western and Central Africa, the more common method is to serve a mound of fufu along with a soup made from okra, fish, tomato, etc. In Ghana, fufu is eaten with light (tomato) soup, palm nut soup, groundnut(peanut) soup or other types of soups with vegetables such as nkontomire (cocoyam leaves). Soups are often made with different kinds of meat and fish, fresh or smoked. The diner pinches off a small ball of fufu and makes an indentation with the thumb. This reservoir is then filled with soup, and the ball is eaten. In Ghana and Nigeria, the ball is often not chewed but swallowed whole. In fact, among the older generation, and the younger generation, chewing fufu is a faux pas.

A similar staple in Sub-Saharan Africa is ugali, which is usually made from maize flour and is eaten in southern and east Africa. The name ugali is used in Kenya and Tanzania; closely related staples are called nshima in Zambia, nsima in Malawi, sadza in Zimbabwe, pap in South Africa, posho in Uganda, fufu, nshima, moteke and bugari in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and ghaat in Eritrea and Ethiopia.

In Caribbean nations with populations of West African origin, such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic, plantains are mashed and then other ingredients are added to the plantain mash such as fried onions, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and seasoned morsels of chicken or bacon. In Cuba it is called fufu de platano, in the Dominican Republic mangu, and in Puerto Rico mofongo.

In Nigeria the fufu is white and sticky. The traditional method of eating fufu is to wash your hands then take a marble sized ball of fufu in the right hand. You then make an indentation in the ball and scoop up the stew or soup you are eating; finally eating the fufu itself. Therefore fufu not only serves as a food but also as a utensil.

Foo-foo is frequently mentioned in Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart.


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