Notes from Ghana #9

Hey there, thanks for all the great comments…I am passing on your greetings for sure. Had a great day today but still writing about it and loading in pics. Check back tomorrow (last night took me one hour to load 5 photos…no kidding).

I will however post some notes of Rory’s about food, below this pic.

For now I will give you a quick glimpse of a “typical adult meeting”. We gather at the “Spot” each day around 5pm for a drink and to settle the day and check in with each other, as this trip is not only new and challenging for the youth. Not your typical meeting room that is for sure. Its also a great vantage point for watching the kids toss a football, walk back and forth to Angelina’s seamstress shop or the bead place, or just get a Fanta for themselves. What a great fun and capable group of adults we have along!

And now, some FOOD  Notes written by  Rory Magill

We have eaten akple (ak-bla) which is a white corn dough for scooping up the beloved red sauce, a tomato sauce rich with fresh, red palm oil (not the clear, filtered, hydrogenated stuff that clogs our arteries in western junk foods) and seasoned with fennel seeds. We have eaten agbolo (a-bo-lo) which is a lighter, spongier version of akple, made so through mild fermentation, giving a very subtle tang to the dough. Most excellent. We have eaten banku (bon-koo) which is not light and spongy, like akple, but denser and more fermented, so that it tastes sour. Least excellent, perhaps. There is also plenty rice and plenty spaghetti and plenty fish. Fry fish, stew fish, sardines (in the salad today, very tasty) and more fry fish. There is chicken and there is beef, but so far, to the consternation of some, there has been no goat. Since MawaKoenya, the catering graduate, returned to the village yesterday, the menu seems to have gone international, and yesterday we enjoyed crepes for dessert after lunch, then a lovely ginger sauce with chicken for dinner, that was described by one of our young diners as Thai take-out. But back to Ghana: fried plantain with stewed bambara beans is a very popular item. Boiled cassava (or agbeli, og-beh-lee) is rather like an african potato. In other parts of Ghana it is pounded for an eternity until the starch polymerizes (we are told) into a tough dough called fufu, not unlike soft rubber, but here in Ewe land it is just plain boiled.

For dessert there is usually fresh fruit, most often pineapple sweet as candy, often bananas; next up will be large sweet mangoes.

For snacks there are cassava biscuits, almost like flat hardtack (for any Newfoundlanders reading) with a lovely hint of the flavour of local coconut oil. The coconut oil here is slightly golden and rich, almost with a hint of smokiness but not exactly, and fantastic. Groundnuts (peanuts) are salted in their skins and sold in long narrow chains of twisted plastic bag, so you can tear one little pouch off and enjoy a snack.

Bread is on the table at every meal and serves as a good default on banku nights and other such moments. Bread in Ghana is virtually always white, very slightly sweet, almost cakey in the crumb, not what you would call substantial, but goes down happily with a spread of Blue Band (yellow shortening) and Fruit jam (listing its second ingredient as Fruit.) The bread toasts nicely at breakfast in the communal toaster. (Remember we are thirty-five….the adults recently stole the toaster from the kids’ dining hall and brought it over to their own dining area. They can probably expect a counter-attack any time.)

Many of the kids have become hooked on Milo for breakfast, a hot malted chocolate drink much superior to Ovaltine, mixed with hot water and tinned milk. Most of the adults get their fix from double-dose Nescafe mixed with the same liquids. The giant and somehow improbable electric coffee maker that once, and only once, issued a great quantity of rather vapid coffee, before blowing circuits and transformers, is not missed. Not to complain: our needs and wishes, gustatory and otherwise, are always cheerfully exceeded. Everybody happy with the food, with the drink and with our living conditions in general, as different as they are from our custom.

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10 Responses to Notes from Ghana #9

  1. Arlene says:

    Have thoroughly enjoyed all the entries and feel I am re-living the trip with you all. Fond memories of the Spot, the wonderful food, the local market and especially the lovely fabrics and Angelina’s amaing creations. Hi to all. I love the comments by everyone, kids and adults. It’s nice to share their reactions and enjoy their adventures. Thanks to all. Arlene Armstrong

  2. Becky Rynor says:

    Wow! This beats the restaurant column in any major newspaper, Rory! Great descriptions…I’m craving pineapple now…although I’m betting it won’t be as good as the ones you are eating.
    Glad to hear the Ghanaian gustatory delights are meeting with approval…well, mostly, I guess.
    Hey Gus, I love the trophy you made! And Emma and I are taking bets on how many Fantas you’re drinking every day :) Love to you and your entire gang…

  3. Carole says:

    restaurant column indeed – i love hearing about what you’re eating in such excellent detail and language – great stuff!!
    Quite the meeting room is the Spot too. Love it. You all look deep into life there.
    Keep the news coming – we’re not eating such interesting new foods but the blogs are feeding us here on this continent!!
    love to you all, carole

  4. Carla says:

    Every morning I get out my iPad and show the toddlers what Kieran and his friends are doing in Africa. Every time I scroll down to the picture of Kieran with the village children the toddlers begin to shout. It’s like they think Kieran and the kids are going to jump out of the iPad and come to play. Many of the daycare families are from Africa. They all stop by every morning to see how all of you are doing in their land. They are as excited as I am to read the daily news. Thanks for the notes, hugs Carla

  5. Vicky says:

    LOVE the foody news…thanks Rory, and everyone for keeping us feeling truly part of the Baobab Tree community. I am getting so much vicarious pleasure from the blog posts I read them over and over and over….Tonight I went to a CISV interchange event and there was much talk of the blog as I chatted to Shiptons and Mahaffys. lots of love, especially to my three boys xoxox

  6. Dev says:

    Wonderful! That empty chair at the “Spot” looks quite inviting.

  7. Chris says:

    As I sit here reading the blog sipping my wonderful creamy rich cappaccino with a sprinkle of cinnamon…..

    No – just kidding. You are making my mouth water so I thought I would try and give you the same sensation back!!

    Its great to have the blog to check out – thanks for taking yourselves out of your experience there to keep us at home updated. Sounds like you are all having a fantastic time. So many new experiences. Life will seem rather dull when you all get back!

  8. Rino Gagbegnon says:

    So detailed! So knowledgable about how to critique food!! And the phonetics!!! Glad you are all enjoying the trip. The pictures are FANTA-stic!!! But where is my daughter??? (just kidding, of coure…. not!)

    Kudos to Kathy and Kwasi. Cheers to one and all.

  9. lina says:

    oh oh oh!!! Goodness Gracious Rory!!! I think i have to make some banku tonite!!! Yikes you a making hungry. Pleeeeeeese pleeeeese bring back bambara beans!!!!! Yum! You all seem to be having so much fun!!! Enjoy! How is the palmwine going down Rory?

  10. thanks for writing mom! LOVE YOU! Iris is having a great time, sewing with Angelina and cooking with the ladies in the kitchen….Adzo, Mansah, Maggie, Vivian etc.

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