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Monday, November 9, 2015

Make ''FUFU'' and not WAR. Katya HENSON




Fufu meal at my host home.
We were told at the In Country Orientation training that as part of the host home experience, we have to eat what the host home eats. I had googled what kind of food they eat in Ghana and I had read a lot of words that I didn’t recognise; fufu, banku, t-z. Although I’d not heard fabulous things about banku, I’d taken myself 3000 miles away from home for a challenge so I was ready to try anything.

The first thing I ate at my host home was boiled yam and stew which was a welcome introduction to food at my host home. It was also telling of the food I would eat for then next month or so which was based around spicy, tomato based sauces and lots and lots of carbs.

Pounding fufu at my host home.
However, let me bring you back to fufu, banku and t-z. They are dumplings with a soft or sticky texture which is meant to absorb the soup you eat it with and act as a spoon. They are mostly made from flour and water or root vegetables and water. Making these dumplings, is not easy. To get the starchy texture, you need to fiercely beat the mixture with a metal rod or large wooden pole and it requires a lot of strength.

I’d seen my host mum and in-country counterpart make t-z and banku before and it looked like a bit too much of an intense workout for me especially considering how hot it is here. I watched open-mouthed as my tiny counterpart held down two metal poles with her feet that were keeping the pot from moving whilst bashing the mixture in to a starchy, white solid with a heavy metal pole. I asked if making fufu was similar, they laughed at me and said it was harder. So, naturally, I wanted to give it a go or just watch if it looked a bit too intense.

A couple of weeks later, my host mum said she was making fufu and that if I was really interested in food – and of course I am – I should come and learn. So one Sunday morning, my host mother got out a huge wooden stick, twice her height and a large, wooden block with a hole carved in to it. ‘This is how we make fufu, we pound it’ she said whilst laughing ‘it is hard work but it’s worth it’

She chopped up cassava and yam and got my counterpart and host brother to start smashing the food in to a pulp whilst she added water (with her hand dangerously close to the giant pestle). Both of them had to take regular breaks from repeatedly bashing the heavy pole up and down. So during one of their breaks, I asked if I could give it a go, ‘collect!’ they said as the host mum put some water in the mixture. I grabbed it, struggled with the weight but I pounded! I only actually managed to pound it 2 or 3 times before my counterpart grabbed it off me because I was probably doing it wrong but at least I helped a little.  

My own interest in food and cooking was an easy way to bond with my host family.  My host mother takes pride in her cooking, as she should do, and I am very keen to learn how someone 3000 miles away from where I cook my meals, cooks theirs. So even though I probably won’t be bringing a giant fufu stick home with me on the flight, I’ll certainly be bringing back some of my host mother’s recipes and some lovely memories of that one time my host mother in Ghana taught me how to make traditional Ghanaian food.