Monday, May 10, 2010

Foods of Ghana

Once you get used to the mechanics of swallowing balls of starch whole, the food of Ghana is quite enjoyable. In most restaurants you can buy rice and either chicken or fish, but if you have a more traditional meal you might not know how to proceed.
Ghanaians typically prepare some kind of starch, usually either corn or cassava, which they eat with a meat stew. You may or may not be provided utensils. If not, use your right hand (never your left) to pinch off a ball of the starchy stuff, dip it in the stew, and swallow it whole. You can pick at the larger meat chunks with your hand and eat them alone. That's the basic idea.
Fufu - pounded cassava. The "soft" preparation is pounded longer than the "hard" version, and is pretty sticky.
Banku - Cassava flour mixed with corn flour, and prepared like fufu.
Kenkey - Corn flour prepared like a mexican tamale, but fermented a little. It's kind of an acquired taste. I enjoy it, but prefer young kenkey, as its texture is softer and the flavor isn't as pronounced.
The stew is usually made with tomatoes, onions, palm seeds, and Ghanaian peppers (they look like habaneros, but are much milder), with whatever meat is available.
There is also a dish made with black-eyed peas, that tastes Indian. Ghanaians do use Indian-style curry in some of their dishes.
Most restaurant meals include fried plantains. They are like heavier, starchier orange bananas, and they are delicious. I would recommend cooking them in the states. You can buy them at any hispanic grocery store.
Ghanaians eat a lot of fruit: white or yellow pineapple, mango, watermelon, papaya, and bananas are the most common things I've seen. Vegetables are another story--you normally have to go to a nice hotel to get even a salad, and they aren't very good. Vegetables are expensive and can contain parasites in their stalks.
There is a very cheap ice cream called Fanice, that you can buy on any street corner. It's about 40 pesewas (26 cents), and it comes in a little plastic wrapper kind of like Gogurt. I like the vanilla best, but the chocolate is good also.

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