One of the most American things about me, besides my inherent first world problems, I would have to say is my pallet.
While as an American you have the luxury of driving to your local McDonald’s, Slim’s, Taco Bell, Panda Express, Chic-Fil-A, etc. when you don’t want to take the time or energy to cook, that is not the case in Ghana. Matter of fact, the only American food place that I saw while in Ghana was Pizza Hut, and we had that our second day here since the restaurant in the hotel was closed when we got done getting our hair braided.
I will try anything once, it’s served me well for the entirety of my life. It allows me to always try new things but I know that I don’t have to be married to a food item, either I like it or I don’t. his isn’t my first time abroad so I always find myself in situations where a meal can be a hit or miss. The positive thing? At least you tried. The downside? Sometimes you don’t want to experiment too much. Like, sometimes I would rather be full off of French fries than hungry because I wanted to try Grasscutter (fried rat), and I didn’t like it. See where I’m going with that?
Here are some typical Ghanaian edibles that I find myself getting very familiar with:
Fufu is a traditional Ghanaian doughy dish. It is typically made of cassava, yams and plantains pounded together, and served with soup and meat. I had the opportunity to try this dish at the Chop Shop in Accra. I can honestly say that for me watching the FuFu be made is the most enjoyable part of the dish. It was very slimy and hard to eat, that was the biggest problem for me. There wasn’t much of a taste but the consistency made it hard to bear.
Banku is actually similar to
fufu but the texture is
Jollof rice was one of the dishes that I was looking forward to trying when I got here. From my understanding the ideal way to make jollof rice is to take tomatoes (juice and all) along with various spices and create a kind of tomato soup. Once you bring the soup to a boil then you add the UNcooked rice in and finish cooking accordingly. It is an art for sure, and every place I had it did not master that art. I really enjoyed jollof, it was so spicy the first time I tried it, but it is getting easier and easier to handle.
Is basically beans and fried
plantain. It was AMAZING.
The savory flavor of the
beans mixed with the
sweetness of the plantains
was the absolute best
Sidenote: The pineapples and mangos in Ghana are unparalleled. It is common to be able to stop on the side of the road and purchase some of the sweetest fruit I have had in my life. I am really not sure how I am going to adjust to American processed fruit. Also, orange Fanta is my absolute favorite drink, a close second would have to be the freshly squeezed juice.
Food is spiritual. For both the African and African-American community it is a huge part of the culture. It is our way of connecting. The fastest thing about Ghanaian food is that you can pick it up ready to go off of the side of the road. You do not have to sacrifice quality for the sake of convenience.
Food plays a major role in the African-Americans community. Just like Africans, when you think of African Americans there are some staple dishes that come to mind, and these are dishes that you can expect to see at family gatherings and celebrations. Foods like chitlins, gizzards, pig ears and feet, collard greens and okra, varying sweet potato dishes, cornbread and hushpuppies, not to mention fruits like watermelon.
These foods are essential to the African-American community. As a part of the African diaspora it is important to note the food connection that links us from modern times, to the slavery era, to the Homeland. For example: hushpuppies are a breaded delicacy that the African-American community enjoys today. A link to the slavery era is that the bread got its name because it was used to hush the puppies (dogs) that slave catchers used to find and retrieve runaway slaves.
So when you go to a funeral repass, or family reunions, or the most common Sunday dinner and you see these foods just know… they don’t call it soul food for nothing. They hold the stories and history of the African-American community.