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Somewhat of a Retraction…AKA FuFu on Me.

April 5, 2010

Hello Foodies!  Happy End of Lent to those who are followers. 

I have been reminded this week of how easy it is to fail in ones intended direction.  For instance, I wanted very much to avoid the tendency to “Group” or “Stereotype” people and places into a preconcieved notion that I had fabricated in my head.  Sadly, even best intentions often go astray.

You may ask what I am referring to, and here is my answer.  Yesterday I feel that I paid lipservice to one of my countries.  I spent all day torturing myself trying to figure out how to write the article for Cote D’Ivoire and nothing would come easily.  This was no example of having the words pour out of my fingertips and onto the screen.  This was me reading and pondering and feeling as if I had re-entered high school and channelled the younger less experienced me into a ego driven machine with a slightly rusty timing belt. 

As the day past and I kept revisiting the text I began to wonder if it was worth the headache.  Some countries simply are harder for me to write about. 

Africa has 54 countries within its borders.  I have begun to realize that many of them have the dish FuFu as part of their cuisine.  Honestly, I am very tired of making FuFu.  I don’t dislike the dish.  I am simply left feeling blase about it.  This is how I felt when beginning to write about Cote D’Ivoire.  Instead of working my head past that point, I went forward on a misconception.  Now I need to retract.  Hmm.

As I was kindly and gently reminded, not all FuFu is the same.  In fact I mention this in my post.  FuFu is made from multiple ingredients and in multiple fashions.  Some is bound with Okra, others simply with the starch from the corn meal.  Some is not even made from corn.  Plantains, Manioc (cassava) etc can all be boiled and mashed to create a thick starch to form the pillars of a dish. 

I will say that I have never claimed to be an expert on African cooking, in fact the opposite.  However, the spirit of this journey seems to depart my mind the second I see the words FuFu (or a derivative).  I forgot why I started this journey in the first place.  That is unacceptable to me.

You may still be saying “what is he talking about”?  The fact of the matter is (and I have been avoiding saying it for shame)  that I never bothered to research a Cote D’Ivoirean recipe for FuFu.  I assumed it would be roughly the same as other versions I have made.  So I played ostrich and stuck my head in a hole and failed to consider that in all of Africas bigness, there would be variations in FuFu that would be as unrelated as fish and fowl.

There.  I said it. 

Now is the part where I scramble to justify my lack of a reason.  But I will not take that route.  The truth is, I was lazy.  I had a long weekend.  I lost focus and tried to make this article without proper sleep and focus.  I realize that in the grand scheme this is a very small misdeed.  I suspect that noone will lose more sleep over it than I will.  Nonetheless, I am a bit miffed at me for losing the spirit of the adventure and selling Cote D’ivoreans short.  They did nothing to deserve my lack of discipline.

On that note, I have done the proper research and will now post a recipe that IS IN FACT a part of the Ivorean tradition.  And the FuFu mentioned is an entirely new way to do this recipe from our past explorations.  Note the French influence in the dish.

I would like to say that as uncomforatble as my discovery was for me, it has taught me the lesson that losing focus is generally a good way to founder your ship.  If only I had extra arms, a second brain an additional laptop and approximately 24 more hours in each day…  


6 plantains
2 aubergines, diced (Eggplant for fellow westerners.  I might suggest using different varieties)
1 large fish, cleaned and cut into steaks
1 onion, chopped
3 hot chilies, pounded to a paste
4 tbsp palm oil
4 tomatoes, mashed
6 okra, finely sliced
salt and black pepper to taste

Sauce Claire and Plantain Fufu Preparation:

Fry the fish in the palm oil until lightly browned then add the onions and fry for a few minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients except the plantains and fry for 2 minutes. Cover the ingredients with water and bring to the boil. Peel the plantains and add, whole to the mixture, seasoning with salt and pepper. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Remove the plantains from the pot and mash to a paste with a little of the cooking stock to make the plntain fufu. Serve the fufu and the fish stew together.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2010 2:01 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.

    The recipe looks divine. I definitely want to make this only day – fish and plantains are my fave combination.

    Excellent job as usual

    Ciao, Devaki

  2. April 5, 2010 2:40 pm

    LOL! Thanks Devaki. You can cheer me up when I am down. I have been going so hard on this challenge that I sometimes get stumped.

    Keep up the good work and thank you!

  3. April 5, 2010 3:43 pm

    Hey, Eric, Happy Easter! You were really hard on yourself in this post, and I could feel your anguish. It’s hard to research, cook and present culinary treasures from around the world! And I can definitely understand how challenging it is to properly present the foods respectfully. No, we are not experts in what we do, but that can be hard when there are so many versions within a continent, not to mention even a neighborhood, of a particular dish. One can simply hope that enthusiasm will highlight cuisines and even the most die-hard Fu Fu lover will appreciate your efforts! I know many of us do! Keep up the great work!

  4. April 5, 2010 4:20 pm

    If only I had had friends like these when I was 18…:) Thanks Liren. Your sentiments are greatly appreciated…

    Happy Easter to you too! >oO=

  5. April 6, 2010 11:32 am

    I have never been able to figure out what to do with plantains- every recipe I have tried has been a failure… I might try this recipe and see if it changes my opinion on them any.

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