Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ghanaian Food

A delicious lunch a friend made for us.
I consider myself an expert on the subject of food since I have been eating it for 49 years now in order to stay alive. One of my biggest concerns about moving to Ghana was the uncertainty of what the food would be like.

One of the most traditional Ghanaian dishes here is Fufu which is made from a kasava root that they pound into submission until it turns into the texture of pizza dough. They then tear off pieces of the doughy substance and dip it with their hand into a soup for flavoring then swallow it. When everyone at the table uses the same soup pot it can take double dipping in the relish tray to a whole new level. 

Other popular dishes include rice ball, peanut butter soup, jollaf rice, banku, and kenkey. I'm too lazy to explain those but you can google them if you want to know what they are. In addition to those foods there are also fried plantains, fish, chicken, and fruits and vegetables.

I have never liked fish. I’ll eat tuna and can handle some occasional talapia or halibut but I’ve never craved fish. I am especially leery when I see dried fish covered in flies at the market and I know we are 5 hours from the coast. Nothings puts a damper on my appetite like seeing a fish head sitting in the stew pot while you are dishing up.

The fruit is great here. It is plentiful and affordable (except for grapes which are very expensive.) We eat pineapples, bananas, melons, tangerines, and mangos when they are in season. One big difference between the fruit here is that it is produced locally and I'm sure it is organic and has not been genetically modified. The bananas  here are much smaller but sweeter than the big yellow ones back home. They only last a couple days from when you buy them until they are attracting fruit flies and turning black. Due to the heat, humidity, and organic nature of the produce, you really have to go shopping for it every day or two in order to keep it from going bad.

Ghanaians eat much less sugar than Americans. I’m sure they enjoy occasional sweets and candy which they refer to as “toffee” but they aren’t as big on desserts as Americans are. Their food is also much spicier. Many of their dishes are quite tasty but it can be hard to enjoy the flavor when your mouth and lips are on fire. When our local friends have prepared food for us they often turn the spice level down to “bland American” level.

Bag of drinking water
One of the things that surprised me upon arrival was to see their drinking water is frequently served in plastic bags. You can also buy water bottles but they are much more expensive. The water bags are kind of like drinking out of a water balloon. You have to be careful when you put it down on the table that the open corner does not get too low and spill.

Ice cream also comes in little plastic bags the size of a frozen burrito which you suck on as it melts. It is called FanIce. It reminds me of how an astronaut living in zero gravity might eat dessert. At first it was awkward but I’m a fan now (no pun intended) and would gladly be their spokesman once I get famous and am looking for endorsements.

Overall, I’ve eaten less here than at home and have even lost weight because it is not nearly as convenient and there are not fast food drive-throughs everywhere like back home. You won't find American fast food here with the exception of just 2 KFC restaurants in our city of 2 million people and they are more of a novelty than anything else. Most Ghanaians would much prefer their traditional food to anything an American fast food chain offers. 

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