What is “Kinky Foo-Foo”?

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Practically the first two Ghanaian (Twi) words I heard on arriving here sounded exactly like “Kinky” and “Foo-Foo”. These two words do in fact feature very prominently in the everyday language and culture of Ghana, as they describe two of the three main staple dishes served here in different configurations, as part of nearly every meal. To me, they have also come to signify the quirky and colorful serendipity of this endlessly beautiful land and her people.

“Kinky”, I later learned, is actually spelled “Kenkey” but it is in fact pronounced true to my initial interpretation of the word. For lack of a more precise description, kenkey is a soft, doughy lump of slightly fermented maize, wrapped in plantain leaves. It is sold on every roadside in Ghana for a little more than the equivalent of one US dollar.

“Foo-Foo”, which is more often than not spelled “fufu” is not completely dissimilar to kenkey. Fufu is made by boiling such starchy foods as cassava, yam, plantain or rice, then pounding them into a glutinous mass, usually in a giant, wooden mortar and pestle. And when I say “giant” I do mean GIANT. The pestles used for pounding fufu are about 7 feet tall.

One of the neighborhood children who visited me recently asked if they have the big 7-foot pestles in America for making their fufu. I told him we don’t have foo-foo in America. With a shocked expression, he said, “but you NEED fufu!” Now he feels sorry for you unfortunate Americans because as far as he can tell, you are all malnourished.

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2 responses »

  1. I need foo foo! I feel very unfortunate as well that we dont have it here…. I desire to come to Africa and eat it.

    I am pregnant and I think my baby needs foo foo too.

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