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By: Kwesi Atta Sakyi
Fufu which is a mixture of pounded boiled cassava and plantain in Ghana is presented in an earthenware bowl or Asanka or pyrex bowl or a plate as two equal and symmetrical lobes. The lobes resemble the buttocks of a woman or two succulent breasts lying side by side, and its imagery conjures a sexual and sensual appeal for the man or husband.
The presentation of food is very important in order for it to engender desire for its consummation. Women who study domestic science or home economics talk about garnishing, decorations, finishing, embellishments, frills, and embroidery, all in the realm of art and aesthetics.
Artistic forms and art are in every aspect of daily life, and Michelangelo made use of that fact in his paintings, showing his acute sense of attention to detail and minutiae, which many people take for granted.
Shakespeare in Hamlet once said,
‘He that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved by the sweet concord of sounds,
Is fit for treason, stratagems, and spoils’
So also may this saying by Shakespeare be applied to food or fufu eating in Ghana.
The two lobes of fufu lying in a bowl create the imagery for the man for him to play pipe organ with his woman when they are alone. Could the two lobes remind the man of the two balls of his genetalia or the two lobes of the woman’s genetalia? That is fufumatics for you. In fufulogy or the whole gamut of the study of fufu, there are many other sciences yet to be developed and extended with disquisitions made on each of those branches.
The other time when this author launched his fufu series, one online reader provided an interesting rejoinder that the Ministry of Education in Accra should establish a Fufu University for this author to be expounding Fufulogy in it. One thing the rejoindee forgot was that for academics, they can take any topic from any angle and dilate on it or dissect it to generate academic vibes and heated mental gymnastics and mental pyrotechnics.
That said, the two lobes of fufu also conjure the picture of the two lovers in bed, lying side by side with each other as co-equals.
The long period of time which the woman expends in the preparation of fufu and its accompanying soup is an act in patience, commitment, love consummation, caring attitude, tolerance, and endurance in the love race. Love pace should be evenly timed and paced so that it can last. The pace should not be rushed in the race otherwise both participants will burn out so soon. The couple are expected to savour their relationship slowly and consummately with joyous abandon.
Thus the woman exhibits deep love and affection for her man by the extra care she takes in ensuring that the soup is well done, tasty, and presentable, in case her man is asking some friend or friends to lunch or dinner. In Akan culture, they do not give notice as to who they are asking along to dinner as some decisions are made on the spur of the moment, especially when the men have been downing skeins of the local intoxicant, akpet or apio or akpeteshie (local gin).
Sometimes, the man will want to test the culinary skills, social intelligence, and tolerance of his woman, and in the process, show her off to his friends as a woman of steel, humility, and high calibre.
The soup which is made up of many condiments, ingredients, proteins, and spices represents a love potion or amalgam or gestalt, which is made to represent the virtues of longsuffering, patience, culinary prowess and skill, progress, sustenance (nkwa corrupted to be nkwan), loyalty, truthfulness, transparency, accountability, care, sharing, friendship, communication, and humility, among many other virtues.
The preparation and presentation of fufu and its accompanying soup for the man by the woman communicates tons of love and a deep message of affection for the family. Among the Ashanti in particular, not eating fufu on a single day may be construed by them as mourning.
The fufu mortar itself, made from the choicest tree trunks, should be a durable and tough-tested wood to withstand the hefty pounding and hammering of the unforgivable stiff and straight pestle, also hewn from select wood specie. The mortar represents the woman and her genetalia while the pestle represents the man and his genetalia. The act of fufu pounding itself is analogous to the sexual act. The man does the hardest part of pounding and sweats profusely in the act, while the lady is at the receiving end.
At the consumption stage, the round Asanka or earthenware bowl symbolises the woman as mother and provider for the family as she holds the whole family together. The consumption of the sumptuous fufu meal is more representative of the man who is served special portions as head of the house and the provider. If a chicken is slaughtered, the gizzard, the breast and the drum sticks belong to the soup pot of the man.
When it comes to the raw ingredients such as plantain and cassava, the cassava represents the woman, and the plantain, the man. When the two are peeled, boiled, and pounded, they are blended perfectly to become the mixture of yummy and fluffy fufu which at some stage in the unblended stage resembles the white and yolk of boiled egg. The blending reminds one of the 23 XY chromosomes contributed by the man through the testosterone hormones and the 22 XX chromosomes contributed by the oestrogen hormones of the woman.
Therefore, fufu eating with sumptuous and delicatessen soups is a source of nutrition for prolific fertility for procreation, and having a healthy family. The delicious soups replenish the energy of the man and provide the woman with rich sources of iodine, calcium, and phosphorous from snails, crabs, fishes, shrimps, crayfish, lobsters, octopuses, squids, and shell fishes to form healthy babies. Vitamins are derived from fish oil, vegetables and the green vegetables. Carbohydrates for energy are derived from cassava, cocoyams and yams while iron and potassium are derived from okra and plantains.
In conclusion, fufu eating is healthy for sustainable living. However, too much of everything is bad. Fufu may be eaten at the weekends or at least once a day.
Places in Accra where you can eat fufu in an ambient and decent atmosphere are Oxford Street in Osu, Backpass RoofTop near the Main Post Office, and Asanka K3se3, among a milieu of restaurants in Accra. Avoid corner chop bars as some of them lack neat surroundings. It all depends on class, taste, and your pocket.
The next in this series is Spirituality of Fufu Eating, which will be followed by Bentualogy of Fufu Eating. Stay tuned and don’t miss out.
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