Along the road from Tamale to Wa.

Along the road from Tamale to Wa.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Food in Wa

I have had some interest in the foods and meals that are available in Ghana.  I have not worked with any local ladies yet but I do cook a lot, usually twice a day.  For breakfast, my roommates and I have ground nut paste with honey and toast.  The bread is made by local ladies and you buy it at night because it is too hot for people to have ovens and many women cook outdoors.  Occasionally we have hot oatmeal but that is purchase at a premium at an Afro-American store.
Lunch and dinner are more interchangeable.  The local staples are rice and beans of several kinds.  They use shea oil that you get in round balls and use for sauces and frying.  I have a propane burner so it is like using my gas stove top at home.  The beans are soaked for at least 12 hours and rinsed a few times while checking for stones and sticks in the batch.  They then are boiled for several hours with a mixture of vegetables such as tomatoes and greens.  The greens are rough in texture when raw but when shredded and boiled are quite like spinach.  There are lots of onions, at the market, so they are added  to most things with garlic and some local spice packets or Italian spices I brought from home. 

Yams are also a local favourite.  These yams are big, brown and rough, and when cut open, are pure white like a potato but a little bitter.  My roommate, Miriyan and I have experimented with this root vegetable and have made something like mashed potatoes with powdered milk but no butter, and salt.  They taste much better when refried with onions and garlic the next day.  We also made yam fries.  Although a little bitter, they are not too bad and the coarse salt and spiced mayonnaise.
I have also made variations of cabbage soup with the tomatoes, greens, very expensive carrots, even more expensive green peppers and some imported pasta.  Ghanaians eat with their hands so they serve rice with the soup so they can pick it up.

The locals pound  the yams to make a powder and then make a smooth dumpling that they ferment.  The blob is not to my taste but they put it together with a stew-like mixture made from okra and vegetables.  Bits of the dough is pulled off and then they dip it in the stew.  This is called Banku and the unfermented ones are called Fufu.  Neither of these I can stand but many volunteers have come to like these local delicacies.  One "spot" or restaurant/bar I went to sold fried yam balls and they were delicious but apparently difficult to make. 
You can also get fish and chicken at the cold storage houses but I have not gone to buy any yet.  In the market you can get fresh butchered goat, lamb, chickens and possibly beef but I cannot go there.  There are too many flies, strange smells and unsanitary conditions.  The other protein we seem to use a lot is eggs.  We have had refried rice, omelets, deviled eggs, boiled eggs with beans or rice and scrambled eggs. 

When we have been out, my roommates and I have had some excellent dishes that we are excited about learning to cook.  Fried bean balls, ground nut balls, ground nut soup, Red-Red, and others.