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Aside from geographic locations, a big part of distinguishing between countries around the globe is through their different cultures and traditions. In the dictionary, culture is described as a collection of ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society. An important aspect of understanding or adapting to different cultures is understanding that culture is something that is highly relative.
Something as simple as a hand gesture in one culture can mean something entirely different in another, for instance something as simple as giving someone a thumbs up, while wildly recognized around the world to be a form of approval or agreement, in some middle eastern countries however it is considered a sign of great disrespect. This is similar when considering the “OK” sign as well (pressing the index and thumb together). The most notorious example that comes to mind is that Richard Nixon’s visit to Brazil in the 1950s. He flashed the “Ok sign” to a waiting crowd upon his arrival to Rio de Janeiro, who immediately replied with unpleasant booing noises. We also notice that certain clothing attires differ significantly among cultures as well.
Another significant cultural aspect that must be considered is food. When traveling, experiencing another cultures food can be one of the best parts of the journey. Not only do you learn a lot about a culture through their dining etiquette, but eating itself is quite an enjoyable experience as well.
In my experiment I will be deliberately examining the Ghanaian delicacy known as “FUFU”. I chose this specific delicacy because it has a sentimental connection my childhood. While growing up I spent most of my days at my grandmother’s house and being that she was of Ghanaian origin, she used to always indulge me with African food. Food that she herself grew up eating as well. And even though some of her cooking was a bit tough to chow down, I would always find myself staring at the bottom a plate of her famous FUFU. After she passed away, FUFU was one of the few things that linked me to her as well as to my memorable childhood. So as such I decided to share more about this scrumptious Ghanaian dish, hoping it stimulates both your mind and your taste buds the same way it does mine.
Fufu or Foofoo is a well known dish in western and central African countries. This African delicacy is made up of starchy ingredients such as yams, cassava, or plantains which are left to boil then pounded and finally are rounded into balls. Pounding them can be quite laborious and is usually done with a mortar and a pestle. Fufu can be eaten with meat, chicken, fish and vegetable stew or dipped in sauces. And even though fufu is eaten throughout the entire African continent, it is originated in Ghana.
you’re done cooking it, the real trick becomes eating it. Before doing so it is important to recognize that African countries such as Ghana, using your left hand to eat is a highly disrespectful gesture. Your left hand serves the function of cleaning youself (i. e. when you use the toilet) while the right hand is used for eating and human contact. Moreover, while Western dining etiquette revolves around the use of silverware, fufu, like much of the cuisine in Ghana, is eaten with the hands (specifically the right one).
Before dinning, two bowls of water are set on the table in front of you. One bowl is used to wash your hands before dinning and the other is used after. To eat this dish you must first break off a small piece of the fufu and make a small indentation in it. Which is then used to scoop up some of the soup, and after placing it in your mouth, without chewing, you swallow. Yes, I said without chewing. Even though many find this concept to be very frustrating to grasp, African culture however dictates it as customary.
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