QUESTION: Fufu. Fufu. Fu-fufu-fu . . . fufu. Say it soft, and it sounds like praying. Say it loud, and there’s music playing. But say it around here and you’ll get absolutely no response at all. Where, pray tell, may I find some of this marvelous stuff?

—Gloria, Sherman Oaks


ANSWER: Fufu, of course, is the mandatory West African starch: white yam, cassava, plantains, maize or whatever, -pounded and cooked and gathered into dense, glutinous blobs from which you pinch off marble-size globules to swish through a stew. West African stews are fabulous; fufu, not so much. In the United States, fufu is often fortified with Bisquick or instant-mashed-potato buds, which doesn’t improve things, I can assure you.

But in Cuba, fufu evolved into the wondrous dish known as fufu de plátanos, and at the venerable North Hollywood restaurant Las Palmas, it takes the form of a compact beige mound constructed of fried pigskin, garlic and green plantains, oozing oil and melted lard, fragrant enough to make the table of construction workers across the room look up from their picadillo when the waitress brings it to your table. Las Palmas, 11671 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, (818) 985-5455.


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