My mother was one of the pioneer restaurateurs in Kumasi which is the capital city of the Ashanti region of Ghana in West Africa. Among the popular dishes served was FUFU. Ghanaians call such a restaurant "chop bar".
As a chop bar keeper, she would go to the local market at Kajetia and purchase all the ingredients needed, including fresh produce called plantain which literally resemble the banana, and cassava which is commonly referred to as tapioca.
The plantain and cassava are cut into pieces and cooked after the outer layers are first removed. Then comes the tedious task of pounding which may take several minutes per each batch. A hand carved wooden mortar and pestle served as instruments for preparing fufu meal.
The cooked produce is carefully placed in the mortar one piece at a time by a person in a sitting position while another person tries to crush the pieces into a uniform mass. The person in the sitting position would guide the preparation process to make sure that every tiny piece is pounded thoroughly while the person doing the pounding would sweat profusely.
At first, it is the sound of wood hitting against wood that could be heard. But as the whole operation is just about to come to an end, a different sound is heard. The pestle is no longer hitting against the wood as the person pounding has now slowed down the action. The pestle now gently going in and out of the dough-like mass which is repeatedly being tossed and turned inside the mortar produces the welcome sound "Fu-Fu, Fu-Fu," as the trapped air tries to escape. All this time, small amounts of water is being added, as needed in order to obtain the desired consistency and smoothness.
As the word Fufu gained popularity, most people, especially from West Africa commonly associate it with their similar traditional dishes, even though they are prepared differently.
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