One of the reasons I wanted to move back to West Africa is because of the food. Obviously, making life-choices based on things you like to eat is hard to justify on one hand – but on the other hand the stomach wants what the stomach wants.
My stomach wants foufou. I remember loving it when I was growing up in Togo, but we lived in the north, and we didn’t eat it that much. But every time was a treat. I love the texture, I love the process of making it (see below), I love the process of eating it (tearing off a little piece with your *right* hand, and shaping it into a little bowl, then scooping up the sauce), and I love the taste.
Here in Niger people don’t eat foufou very much either. The inyams it is made with don’t really grow here and have to be brought up from the coast. But there are still places you can go, lots of Ivorian restaurants and little roadside shacks. But a few months ago we hired Munifa, a Togolese lady to come and clean our house once a week. She told us she likes to cook, so I asked her if she knew how to make foufou. She laughed and said, “Bien même.”
She wasn’t kidding.
So Julie went out and got an inyam, and we were in business. And we have been in business about once a week since then. You know how some things you remember loving as a child are not nearly as great as you thought they were once you try them again as an adult? Well foufou is nothing like that. It is even better as an adult, especially when you haven’t had it for over a decade. Absence makes the heart grow fonder I guess. And boiling and inyam and beating it beyond all recognition makes it into foufou.