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Oct
28

Know Your Fufu..(and Banku, and Kenkey!)


Ah yes, the subject of food. Always a crowd-pleaser. Exploring and learning about Ghanaian food has been quite the adventure, and I know my stomach has not appreciated all of it, but I think it has been worth while.

First let’s start with the traditional entrees:

Banku, Fufu and Kenkey are all in one catergory: things that look like matzah balls… They are served in some sort of soup, which is always spicy. There is ground nut soup (peanut soup), light soup, palm nut soup, okra stew, and a few other soups that I can’t name or describe because I would never dare eat them. The picture below is how fufu looks when it is being made. I gave my best shot at pounding it, those sticks are really heavy!

The approach to eating this dish is to pull off a piece of fufu with your fingers, and then shape it into a scoop-like thing. Then dip it back into the soup and enjoy. Fufu is the sweetest of the three and is made of boiled and mashed cassava and plaintains.

Banku is cassava and corn, same process boiled and mashed until its consistancy is sticky and pliable. Kenkey, is just mashed boiled maize. Sometimes Banku is served with a fish and pepper sauce, which is pretty good.

The common fish served here is Tilapia. I don’t eat it often because they serve it whole and it is a pain in the butt to eat. They also have goat, chicken, and cow meat. And I have yet to see what they call grass cutter, I think it is a guinea pig. I used to have a guinea pig named Mo when I was in high school, so I think I will pass on the grass cutter.

My very favorite dish is plantains and pavelar sauce. They way plantains are prepared here tastes like they are bathed in butter, but I know that is not the case because cow products like cheese, butter, and milk and pretty nonexistent here.

Jollof rice is a very popular side. It is kind of like Spanish rice, but a bit spicier. Fried rice or plain rice other the other rice options. They are both served the same as in the states.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant here, which is great. Vegetables that are common are avocado, tomato, carrot, onion, sweet potato, corn,  garden egg (like eggplant, but smaller), green peppers, tiny hot red peppers, potatoes and ginger! You can buy 5 smallish tomatoes for 50 peswas, which is about 35 American cents.

Fruits that you can find at market include pineapples, papayas (which they call paw-paws), bananas, coconut, plantains (which are savory, but still a fruit), and oranges (which are actually green here.) You can also occasionally find apples, watermelons, and tangerines. There is a big fancy shopping center in Accra that has a grocery store called Shoprite. Kathleen and I go about once a week and it is quite a treat. There you can find luxury items like pomegranates, which run about 28 Ghana cedis, or 22 USD. They also have things like Haagen Das ice cream, a pint goes for about 38 Ghana cedis. I buy myself a special treat of one chocolate bar a week. I ration  myself quite well on a daily basis.

And then there are beverages. Most soft drinks are served in old school tall glass bottles. Malt beverages are popular here, not like Mickey’s or anything, but non-alcoholic. There is Malta, which is made by Guiness. It tastes like a sweet Guinness flavored soda.

There is also Alvaro, which is a lighter malt soda that comes in three flavors: pineapple, pear, and passion fruit. They are very delicious and definitely one of my favorites. Alcohol wise, beer is the fan favorite here. There is a big competition  between two brands: Star and Club. I think they taste pretty similar, but the local preference is Star.  Water is sold here is little plastic bags ( see below)  and of course, there is always coconut water, served straight from the coconut. An isotonic beverage, it is a great way to dehydrate!

Care for some water in a bag?

Ghanaians are not to big on sweets or desserts, God bless them. But one thing that is easy to find is Fanmilk. Fanmilk is ice cream that is served in little plastic packets. It comes in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Out of the three, vanilla is the sweetest and creamiest, but my favorite is the chocolate, because it is actually frozen yogurt. At restaurants, you will hardly ever find a dessert menu, but sugar cane is sold on the side of the road.

One thing that is really interesting to me is that packaged foods, no matter what the item, are marketed as healthy or containing essential vitamins and minerals.  Even sodas or ice cream! They all want Africans to think they are eating nutritious food, since that is one problem here: getting the nutrients you need from your food. That is all I can think of for now. I know there are more dishes and foods to mention, but those are definitely the main one’s that sustain my diet here, except the grass cutter. ;)

 

 

5 comments

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  1. Maggy says:

    Hey Syambra — I LOVE your blog posts. Sounds as if you’re having a wonderful time.

    xo

  2. Kaylin Lustig says:

    Sending you love from Ireland!!

    “Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant here, which is great. Vegetables that are common are avocado, tomato, carrot, onion, sweet potato, corn, garden egg (like eggplant, but smaller), green peppers, tiny hot red peppers, potatoes and ginger! You can buy 5 smallish tomatoes for 50 peswas, which is about 35 American cents”

    “They all want Africans to think they are eating nutritious food, since that is one problem here: getting the nutrients you need from your food. ”

    With all the fresh abundant food, sold so cheaply, why would there be any problem getting the nutrients one needs from their food?

  3. Linda Covell says:

    Hey, Sy—I hope you remember me. I met your Mom this morning at church and was thrilled to hear all about you and what you are doing now. You go, girl ! What an adventure ! And you are teaching third-graders too ? I had polio as a child in the 1948 epidemic in California. San Jose and San Diego were especially hard hit. So I know the value of what you are doing vaccinating children. You can’t imagine how lives will be changed by your actions. Bless your heart! Shoot me an email whenever you get a chance. I’d love to hear from you. ‘Glad I had an opportunity to say , “hi”.
    Big huge hugs from me,
    Linda Covell

  4. jennifer says:

    Symabra– Can you receive care packages of food? If so, email me. I’d be happy to send you some yummy Colorado goods. hugs to you.

  5. Lisa says:

    Plantains in Pavelar sauce! That sounds great, I love plaintains. How do you make the sauce?

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