Cou-cou, coo-coo (as it is known in the Windward Islands), or fungi (as it is known in the Leeward Islands and Dominica) makes up part of the national dishes of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It consists mainly of cornmeal (corn flour) and okra (ochroes). Cornmeal, which comes readily packaged and is available at supermarkets island wide, and okra, which can be found at supermarkets, vegetable markets and home gardens, are very inexpensive ingredients. Because these main components are inexpensive, the dish became common for many residents in Barbados' early colonial history. Cou-cou derives from the island's African ancestry and was a regular meal for those slaves who were brought over from Africa to Barbados.
A unique cooking utensil called a "cou-cou stick", or "fungi stick", is used in its preparation. A cou-cou stick is made of wood, and has a long, flat rectangular shape like a 1-foot-long (30 cm) miniature cricket bat. It is believed by Barbadians to be essential in stirring the cou-cou, as the dish takes on a firm texture and the cou-cou stick makes it easier to stir in a large pot.
Flying fish prepared fried or steamed is a usual complement to cou-cou. Cou-cou and flying fish has become Barbados' national dish. Corned beef, or just beef stew, is also a common accompaniment to cou-cou. Traditionally, cou-cou is served on Fridays at homes across Barbados and local food establishments. Cou-cou can also be prepared using breadfruit instead of cornmeal.