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What: Foofoo, also spelled fufu, is a common food around much of tropical Africa. It’s prepared in various ways with different ingredients depending on location, but in Sierra Leone, foofoo is made with fermented cassava in what was explained to us as a rather grueling process: The cassava roots are soaked, ground up with a mortar and pestle, and strained to remove excess liquid. It’s then left to sit for a few days to ferment before getting cooked into a bulky wet paste, requiring vigorous stirring, and finally it’s rolled into balls, to be eaten with various stews in lieu of rice. The result is a pleasantly doughy ball with a sour flavor—something of an acquired taste, but it works with a good stew, like crain crain or sour sour, made with leafy sorrel.
Where: Our big ball o’ foofoo came from the vendors at Moyamba Junction, a sort of food-court road stop on the road to Bo. In reality, it’s a few restaurants and businesses in a row, with market and food vendors set up all over the parking lot.
When: Foofoo is most commonly available in restaurants on Saturdays, but we found ours at this market on a Monday.
Order: This vendor had big and small foofoo balls, and served them alongside a sour soup with fish balls (Le1,000), which we later heard was an unusual accompaniment for foofoo. Regardless, we liked the soup, probably more than the foofoo itself!
Alternatively: Unfortunately we had just one opportunity to try foofoo, and while we didn’t love it, it’s such a staple in African cuisine that it’s certainly worth seeking out. Look for it on Saturdays in restaurants, or try to eat it in a local’s home.
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