I am happy to finally announce that I have collaborated with Buzzfeed Tasty!! I have been so excited to announce this news for awhile! I was given the opportunity to work with Buzzfeed Tasty to talk about the #fufuchallenge and show others how to make cassava fufu. Below I will tell you more about the "Fufu Challenge", what fufu is, and why this feature is important to my culture. Click here if you would like to jump to my video feature with Buzzfeed Tasty.
What is the Fufu Challenge?
The fufu challenge was started by Tik Tokers off one video of a woman who was inspired by Youtubers that she watched eating the West African dish. So she decided she wanted to try the food at one of her local Nigerian owned restaurants. She proceeded to record herself eating in her car eating it and then posted the video on the Tik Tok app. Other Tik Tokers saw the video and decided they wanted to try it because of how good she made it look. From there it was labeled the #fufuchallenge and it went viral. Unfortunately, what could have been an exploration of a new cultures food, it morphed into many Tik Tokers disrespecting the food by slapping it, calling it all kinds of name such as trash, nasty, and spitting it out etc. There were also many who enjoyed the food or some who kindly declined but of course the negative reactions received the backlash (rightfully so). It is ok to not like food from another culture, but you do not need to express it in a rude and disrespectful manner. In response to the viral videos, the West African community took a huge offense to this and here we are. Therefore, I decided this would be a great opportunity to to educate others about fufu, in addition to teaching how to make the dish. Check out my recipe for cassava fufu on Buzzfeed Tasty. Below are some tweets addressing the fufu challenge.
What is Fufu?
Fufu originates from Ghana, West Africa. The word "fufu" is derived from the Twi language spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast. It means "smash" or "mix". It is a staple food in West and Central Africa as well as the Caribbean islands. Fufu is a starchy dough like food that is made out of pounded fermented cassava, or boiled pounded plantain, and sometimes the combination of both. Coco yam is also pounded into a dough and is sometimes referred to as fufu, or just pounded yam. This all depends on what your household and/or country refers to it. The taste of the cassava fufu is slightly sour and soft to the touch when hot. When cooled it becomes firmer. Traditionally, it is pounded using a pestle and mortar until it forms the dough you see below.
There are other versions of pounded starch eaten in various West and Central African countries such as Sierra Leone (my home country), Cameroon. Nigerian, Liberia, Benin, Ghana etc. Other starches include Banku and Kenkey from Ghana which are made out of fermented cornmeal, pictured below. It is similar to the East African, Ugali. Fufu is eaten with a variety of soups such as groundnut soup, sawa sawa egusi soup (Sierra Leone), okra soup, bitter leaf soup, kraine kraine (Sierra Leone), pepper soup, etc. Traditionally, it is eaten by hand and swallowed, not chewed.
For more detailed information about fufu please read this beautifully written article by Zoe Adjonyoh.
Kenkey with sawa sawa egusi soup and mini eggplants
Why is my feature on Buzzfeed Tasty important?
Well let me start first by saying this is an opportunity I basically manifested. In May 2020, I participated in an Instagram Live with two of my blogger friends. I was asked at the end of the live "What is your dream collaboration?". I mentioned two companies and one of them was Buzzfeed Tasty. I honestly did not think it would happen this soon. However, I am very happy it did! The best part is that this collaboration happened organically because I decided to speak up about accurate representation regarding West African food. The Fufu Challenge consequently, was at its peak viral moment. I approached one of the Tasty producers for a collaborative effort to address this "challenge" that was causing a huge buzz on social media. The producer gladly agreed and long story short, the video feature was created.
The feature with Tasty is important because it has given African food a larger platform to not only address the controversial Tik-Tok challenge, but amplify West African and Central African food. This is a large part of why I started my business. I want our food and culture to gain more visibility in the culinary world. If you have ever eaten West African food then you would know how delicious it is! From the variety of rice dishes to the array of soups and other delicious hand held snacks. Our food is lip smacking good!
With the rise in popularity and visibility of our food, it makes me so excited to be apart of this wave. I am honored to be in this collaboration that stemmed from me simply advocating for my cultures food.