June 5th, 2013
07:00 PM ET
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World-renowned chef, author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the next episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, June 9, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.

"Good food is going to be a challenge soon, so we take the opportunity to fill up on what we can," Anthony Bourdain says, fueling up at a local restaurant before leaving Goma. This city in the Democratic Republic of Congo lies at the foot of the Nyiragongo Volcano and has a population of about one million people - many of whom are internally displaced.

Grilled chicken, ugali and piri piri pepper make “a pretty nice meal," Bourdain finds.

Where he and his crew are going, deep into the "heart of darkness" as Joseph Conrad so famously put it, requires a multi-day barge journey that isn't exactly a luxury river cruise with refrigeration. SPAM and scrambled eggs it is.

According to the UN World Food Programme, there is a "precarious food security situation" in the DRC - one in four children in the war-torn country is malnourished.

The food that is accessible is simple and nourishing. Filling starches like cassava and plantains are used to fill the stomach, while fish from the snaking Congo River are a valuable source of protein. So are grubs and caterpillars. Most animal proteins - chicken, eggs, goat and bush meat, for example - are considered a rare and expensive luxury.

One of the most commonly-served West and Central African dishes is a thick paste made of cornmeal, yam, plantains or cassava. What you call it depends on where you are in Africa - Bourdain calls it ugali, others call it posho, but it's more commonly referred to as fufu.

It isn't eaten plain, but instead used more like a utensil to dip into soups, sauces and stews.

You too can travel deep into the heart of Africa by making this dish at home.

cassava flour congo
Congolese women and girls sell cassava flour in Goma.

Recipe published with permission by the University Press of Mississippi

Fufu can be made from scratch with fresh plantains and either cassava or yam (and strong arms!). Yam comes in all colors and sizes but should not be confused with sweet potato, which isn't a true yam.

African yams are often hard to find in the U.S. but you can experiment with other yams. The consistency of fufu should be more like chewy dumplings than mashed potatoes. To make it from scratch, take 5 green plantains and 2 1/2 cups cassava (also called manioc or yuca) or yam. Peel, cut into chunks, and cover with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender. Drain.

Put the pot back on the stove over low heat and pound and stir the mixture with a sturdy wooden spoon or large wooden pestle for 15-20 minutes, adding a little water as you work so the mixture doesn't stick to the pot.

When the fufu is smooth and feels a bit like chewing gum, roughly shape into balls (the size of tennis balls) by wetting a round bowl with high edges and vigorously rolling each ball of fufu in it for a few seconds. Serve as an accompaniment to stews, soups or sauces.

Previously on Parts Unknown:
Peruvian food, from guinea pigs to pisco sours
Peruvian food is having a moment
Make perfect pisco sours and ceviche
South America's pisco enjoys North American revival
Breakfast in Libya
Where fast food tastes like freedom
iReport: In Morocco, eating is the spice of life
Street snacking in Morocco
O Canada! Our home and delicious land
Come for the strip bars, stay for the poutine
Colombian cuisine – from aguardiente to viche
Americans just don’t understand the potato. Colombians do.
Los Angeles Koreatown
The ever-changing flavor of L.A.'s Koreatown
Bridging generations and cultures, one blistering bowl of bibimbap at a time
Los Angeles food trucks are in it for the long haul
Fall in love with Myanmar's cuisine
In Myanmar, drink your tea and eat it too

soundoff (95 Responses)

    Dear sisters and brothers,

    Remember that you have enough food there but here in North and South Kivu in democratic Republic of Congo we are in the 20th year of war without food. most of us in displaced camps.
    Best regards

    June 13, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  2. Stephanie C

    The Congo episode was incredible. It brought a bright light on the daily challenges faced by the Congolese in poverty conditions. The human spirit is strong as exemplified by the men who report to work for little to no pay on a crumbling, ancient railroad system – nice shot of the Detroit manufacturers name on the equipment, truly ironic; and the unpaid men who work diligently to preserve a library and its contents from moldering into nothingness. From a food perspective it showed how scarce food is and how people must and do survive in harsh conditions. Hunger is a pervasive. Thank you for a great show.

    June 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  3. Guest

    A fantastic show on the history and present state of the nation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It taught me so much I didn't know. Thank you for bringing light to life in a country we hear so little about. Great show!

    June 10, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  4. Marie

    I went online to check out the chocolate company Mr. Bordain invested in. One chocolate bar was $18.00. HUH. A box of chocolates was $55.00. I guess the 1% of the population are the only ones eating these chocolates. And that cost is not including shipping.

    I guess I have to be grateful as his show is free instead of Pay per View. Lucky me because I do like it.

    June 10, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  5. firechef

    Who are the idiots who are sponsoring and footing this morons bill? better yet! who is dumb enough to buy all of his crap!

    June 9, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  6. Donna

    I don't understand why this isn't on the food network - looks like CNN is going to be like MTV and VH1 – how much music do you see there anymore – that is what they started as all videos – CNN was all news – don't need a crystal ball to see this future – what a shame

    June 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  7. Matt

    This brings up warm memories when I was traveling the same are in the beginning of the 90's. Sadly the bad news of whats happening in the area overshadows the stunning nature and wild life, awesome people and rich food encountered ...

    June 9, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  8. congomama

    How do we get these episodes on DR Congo? We do not have a TV to watch them.

    June 8, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Mama Mkubwa


      We'll try to record it for you. :)


      June 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  9. Olaf Big

    This just shows what incredibly bad case of tin ear Bourdain has. Nobody who cares about the Congo would think about it as a foody destination at present. Nobody who cares about good food would think about the Congo as the place to look for it. So what is this nonsense about? Complete failure of good taste...

    June 8, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • bwana mkubwa

      Watching a show on food scarcity and deplorable food conditions should give you a different perspective on food, certainly more so than seeing one more ethnic restaurant in a European or American city, get a life.

      June 9, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • Bart Fargo

      Sadly, brining upper class Western obsessions to the Congo is the only way many Americans will pay any attention at all. Certainly all the murder, rape and pillaging hasn't dampened our desire for conflict minerals in the form of the latest electronic toys for grownups. Having not seen the episode, I don't know if Bourdain spends the show in a foodie bubble or if he examines real life in the country. I suspect and hope it's the latter, in which case it could be an entertaining and enlightening episode, exposing both the good and the bad of the DRC.

      June 9, 2013 at 4:04 am |
      • stateschool

        The United States is one of the only countries trying to help the DRC. We give them nearly half a billion dollars annually in foreign aid, not counting private donations and U.S.-based NGO's. Please reserve your criticism for those developed nations that do nothing whatsoever to improve conditions in Africa.

        June 9, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • AK

      Olaf, STFU.

      June 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
      • Bwana Mkubwa

        I second the motion

        June 13, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  10. nuclear mike

    Why is this awful show even on cable much less any broadcast in the world?

    June 8, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • K.K.

      You don't have to watch it!

      June 9, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • i_know_everything

      m o r o n

      June 9, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Bwana Mkubwa

      Lift your rock and crawl back under it, why would anyone be the least concerned about what you think, go make your own news as accurate as you please, then report on it, see if we listen.

      June 13, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  11. Bart Fargo

    "We may have invented the stealth bomber," says Bourdain, "[but] really this will be our crowning accomplishment as a culture."

    Considering that the invention of the stealth bomber is one of the low points of Western culture, scrambled eggs and SPAM is by comparison indeed one of our crowning achievements. Unless that is you consider endless war for private profit a noble strategy for our future.

    June 8, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  12. Mmjk

    Is his so anxious for another side of warthog butthole? Yikes. Tony, knock it off! You are not Andrew Zimmern and you're making the rest of us thoroughly sick.

    June 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • firechef

      You're right! Tony is nothing like Andrew! Tony's shows are LAME, LAME, LAME! on top of that he can't cook worth a damn. My girlfriend who burns water is a better cook than he!

      June 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  13. Caleb Boone

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

    Spam Hash.

    In the bush.

    Captain Kangaroo could have prepared that.

    Have a Dovely.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    June 8, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  14. davecu

    I watched one episode of his previous show where Anthony was with, I think, the Zulus. They hunted and got a wort hog that they roasted the hog, uncleaned, in an open fire.
    Being the 'guest of honor' Anthony was given the part of the hog that sits between the cheeks, somewhat cleaned.
    I've never felt soo badly for a traveling gourmand than I did for him that night.

    June 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  15. Ten

    This is the only time I can actually say I felt bad for Anthony Bourdain. The Congo is very tough to be, a hell hole actually.

    June 8, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  16. Yeti

    Thanks Anthony for showcasing African Cuisine. Little known fact is African cuisine is not only delicious but also extremely nutritious. It is a great way to maintain a healthy weight. We are still working on food security in Africa but that does not take away from the wonder of African Cuisine! For video demo of fufu preparation check out this YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSrtR_ChvkA

    June 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  17. Fromafrica

    Am from Africa and I wouldn't eat that sh*^t, if viewers could smell the show they'd pass out, western African food sures a stinky

    June 8, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • firechef

      Absolutely correct! Never smelt such horrible stinky food unless at my local garbage dump! That's why I always travel there with a suitcase full of canned dogfood (will not get confiscated) and it smells, tastes and has more nutrition than anything they have there!. Hey! you gotta be prepared and yes! I can trade it for other stuff! LOL!

      June 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  18. teetee

    Travelers can lose 10-lbs in a week whilst traveling in Africa; much better than going to a weight loss clinic, and just as expensive.

    June 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Bart Fargo

      And that 10 lbs doesn't even take into consideration the exotic GI infections a Westerner is likely to acquire deep in the bush.

      June 8, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  19. Jerry

    It seems wrong to go into a place where decent food is expensive and people are starving, and then eat some of that food. But I suppose most Westerners are doing that anyway, just far away from the starvation.

    June 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  20. don

    now i am hungry. i think i will put a nice steak on the grill for me and the dog.

    June 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • firechef

      Lucky Dog! there he would be a delicassy which Anthony could showcase, maybe he could also eat that part beneath the tail, would make him feel at home! Butthole to Butthole, we are what we eat! LMAO

      June 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  21. Joe

    Tough to watch since some of these places are so poor.

    June 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  22. JM

    We could share our bounty by donating $ so that starving kids in the Congo have food.

    June 8, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Terry

      And your hard earned money will never get to them.

      June 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
      • JM

        That's a convenient excuse.

        Obviously there are (non-selfish) people who are there actually helping kids. Obviously this thing called the internet allows people to find and assist those groups (and also identify if they are legit).

        June 8, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
  23. USAPeasant

    Can't wait for the Congo season finale! This is one of the few shows that still makes CNN watchable. Please renew for another season!!!

    June 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  24. BobMD

    This is the height of African cuisine? Mash up some yams into a ball of paste?

    June 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • bwana mkubwa

      Or go to bed hungry, what is your point?

      June 9, 2013 at 12:58 am |
      • Mugabe

        The birthplace of humanity and they still haven't gotten out of the stone age. Pitiful.

        June 11, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  25. cpc65

    Hope Tony likes BBQ Gorilla and Elephant Stew.

    June 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  26. Anna

    I wonder if Bourdain ever gets just raging, extreme diarrhea after eating at the places he does.

    June 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Abtuki Obatumo

      I know, right! They eat such disgusting food. Savages.

      June 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • Mama Mkubwa

        I'm praying this is all sarcasm that is simply hard to interpret in print.

        DRC has the most glorious scenery, sounds, smells, seasons, languages, vegetation, animals, fabrics, and music on earth. Congolese are outrageously beautiful, kind, and generous. I never had a "disgusting" meal...ever.

        June 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  27. Kerry

    This program makes me hungry. I do enjoy the exotic locations. It's nice to see something good come out of the Congo besides gorillas.

    June 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  28. Joe

    He doesn't stop drinking!

    June 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • adan fernandez

      ive heard he has 2 liver(s) ;/

      June 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Don't drink the water...

      Drinking the water isn't safe...drinking the beer is because the wort has to be boiled and the bottles sterilized. He probably brings the wine with him. Smart man.

      June 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
      • Larry L

        A brewery has lasted in the Congo since the revolution against colonialism in the 1950s. The make Simba and Timba beer and it's pretty good.

        June 8, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
        • bwana mkubwa

          Bralima Brewery in Bukavu was founded in 1923 and makes Primus.

          June 9, 2013 at 1:02 am |
  29. not much

    I'm sure Anthony is a fine fellow. I Just have never seen any advertisement or snippet of a show or part of an article that entices me. I clicked here and didn't read this one either. I hope YOU all are enjoying his work. I just can't seem to generate even a little interest.

    June 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Anna

      Well then you should probably give up clicking on articles about him. I love learning about different places and how people eat in different regions. Bourdain is pretty intelligent and genuinely interested in the cultures he visits. He also seeks out intellectual or knowledgeable or otherwise interesting people to hang with in these regions. So, I enjoy his program.

      June 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  30. tombryan

    Does anyone else not give a shit about what Anthony is up to? I wish CNN would focus on getting accurate news.

    June 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • bwana mkubwa

      no, just you, you are alone, go somewhere else, comment on someone you think you care about

      June 9, 2013 at 1:07 am |
  31. Caleb Boone

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

    I can recommend the small hand-size chicken pies at the roadhouse near Brits outside Johannesburg.

    They cost nothing and you can easily drive right there on a well-maintained asphalt road.

    Easy, quick, inexpensive and delicious.

    But you all already know that.

    Have a Dovely.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    June 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • bwana mkubwa

      And how far is that fine dining stop from the Congo,4000 kilometers?

      June 9, 2013 at 12:32 am |
      • Mama Mkubwa


        I think I love you.


        June 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
        • Bwana Mkubwa

          Nakupende Mama, wewe ni mwanamke nzuri, Hehehe

          June 12, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
  32. PW

    Bourdain is a gluttonous loser. Save an animal. Eat a foodie.

    June 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  33. Adam

    The DRC is one of most war-torn, deprived countries on our planet – via the UN human development indicators the DRC is currently ranked last . I hope this episode provides some insight on what has occurred and continues to occur in eastern DRC. Our world needs to be more aware of the 'realities' outside our own borders. Can't help but feel a little pi%*ed off at a television program based on exploring the foods of the world within a country that has millions of Congolese facing starvation...

    June 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • JB

      Everyone already knows that there are many, many starving people in the DRC, as well as that it's overrun with violence, but we need stories that actually depict life as well, otherwise outsiders just become jaded and think the place isn't worth helping to begin with.

      June 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • Adam

        JB, great point on needing stories to depict life and highlight the resiliency of the people that call the DRC, or other similar nations home. I feel that narratives are an amazing way to connect people from different backgrounds throughout our planet. I'm going to disagree with your point regarding everyone knowing about the atrocities and loss of life in the DRC. Unfortunately our mainstream media sources haven't provided enough airtime related to this region of our world. In closing, I believe in the greater goodness of the human spirit. And I'm extremely grateful for all the wonderful people whom are working for a stronger, more united DRC – both the Congolese and international supporters.

        June 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • bwana mkubwa

      so you may be pissed but millions of viewers will be learning about the Congo and its deplorable conditions, so what is it again that are you pissed about??

      June 9, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • bwana mkubwa

      and so Bourdain's show brings million's of viewers to that reality, and what are you pizzeled about?

      June 9, 2013 at 1:16 am |
  34. Larry L

    I've worked extensively in the Congo and can speak from experience. The region offers some of the most unsanitary food on the planet. Food sanitation is disgusting – including ice, water, produce, dairy product (rare) and meat. Visitors to the Congo should very carefully select their food and avoid sauces, raw foods, and any meats not piping hot when served.

    June 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Demerde-toi

      I spent 5 years in and out of the DRC and surrounds, it's a tough story and a seemingly never ending cycle of violence and famine. Not the best spot for a culinary experience unless you fake it or eat with that very small percentage that controls the wealth. Afrik....I miss it and sort of hate it.

      June 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
      • Larry L

        I spent a good deal of time in the old Zaire. I remember seeing the remains of the Belgian Congo days in some of the remote provinces – the colonial homes with swimming pools all gone to ruin. Zaire was the most corrupt, violent, disease-ridden, and socially unbalanced society I could imagine. The natural beauty of Equatorial Africa is still astounding, but man's influence on the land (and each other) often makes the region a hell-on-earth.

        June 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  35. stevenbeto

    When will the episodes be for sale, and where can they be obtained? Season One: Go Bourdain!

    June 8, 2013 at 7:03 am |
  36. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Dude is ALWAYS drinking.

    June 6, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      But I do love the show. =D

      June 6, 2013 at 10:29 am |
      • Caribel

        A little wine or beer every day will keep the doctor away!

        June 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
        • Guest

          Along with your mother in law.

          June 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • gager

      He bends his elbow, so do I . Love to drink with Anthony

      June 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
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