Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I think everyone wonders about this aspect of travel abroad, right? Well, I'll do my best to write about a few of my most recent adventures of cuisine. A little disclaimer first though, I'm going to have a tough time giving the food properly spelled titles. This is because I've seen nothing spelled out; my experience of the language here has been 100% oral/auditory. (I also have limited internet connection right now, and no time to ask the Google-wizards for food names.) So I hope you don't mind approaching these foods as I have been... curiously and without information.

First, Banku. Banku is fermented corn mash (and usually another kind of grain) packed into a burrito-sized loaf and served with okra stew. You eat it by pinching off a piece of banku and scooping up the stew. The stew has an interesting flavor in itself; it's a bit sour, and then when you eat it with the fermented corn it's really is sour. I still like it, but I do think it will be an acquired taste.

Waachi. I really like this dish. It reminds me of Creole food; basically, it's rice and beans mixed together with a spicy sauce poured over it. Somehow, the beans are different here. For one, they're cooked perfectly—done, but not mashed, and some are a bit burnt and they have this almost-roasted flavor. The other difference? No gas! Not yet anyway. :)

WaaWaa. This literally means “Red Red” because of the color it can have. WaaWaa is a mixture of beans and a meat (chicken or fish) served with fried plantains. When palm oil is used in both the beans and the plantains, both of them look reddish in color, hence, “Red Red.” This first time that I had it though it was made without palm oil, so it didn't really stand up to it's name, but it was super delicious! Palm oil is pretty unhealthy and known to give foreigners a bad time, so I'm glad to have had WaaWaa this way, at least for the first time.

Other foods I've experimented with:

Smoked fish: One day at lunchtime, I was starving and had no idea where to look for whatever kind of food, but I walked by a plexi-glass box on a table, the size of a cooler, with smoked fish (eyes, skin, and all) leaning inside the front of it. I had no idea how I was going to eat this fish, but I stepped up and bought it all the same. When I brought it home I sliced a bit of bread I had left, peeled one of my mini-cucumbers, and pulled out whatever condiments I could find in the fridge, and resolved to make a sandwich. Thanks dad for teaching me how to clean a fish! It's a little different when the fish is smaller than the Sunnies we used to keep, and when it's already cooked, but I was able to get off enough of a filet (in pieces) for a fish sandwich.

Oranges: I've started a few of my mornings with an orange. They weren't particularly dazzling, but it's worth noting that a ripe orange is green here—lime green.

Mystery-meat kebabs: Not really sure of what kind of meat this was... it seemed too tough to be chicken, but whatever it was, it was delicious grilled on a kebab with onions and coated in red seasoning.

Eggs: A classic standby! I bought a few and ate one scrambled with leftover Waachi; the others I ate scrambled with hot sauce.

“Salad:” This gets quotations because it's really quite different than a plate of leafy greens in the States. Up the street from where I'm living in Accra, at the second speed bump to be exact, is where the “Salad Lady' sets up her stand every night at 6pm. Like most food vendors, she has the same plexi-glass box set up at waist level. In it, she sets her prepared bowls of salad ingredients: green lettuce leaves which she cuts into strips when you order a salad, cooked elbow noodles, onions, cucumbers, cut up yams or carrots (not sure which), pieces of fish, canned beans, hard boiled eggs, and salad cream. Now salad cream is really what makes this whole concoction odd. It's like mayo in flavor, but it's more liquid-y, like a french dressing but white. She doesn't put just a spoonful or two in; no, if you don't stop her, she'll put a total of 6-7 spoonfuls of salad cream into your dinner. So I stop her at 4 and it's more than enough. Really, this makes a great dinner with some good sources of protein, but it also has a pretty powerful smell (what with fish and egg!).

Drinks, you ask? All I've really had is beer and papaya juice. Guess which was better... ;)

THE PAPAYA JUICE! One day for lunch I walked a few blocks and turned the corner and paid a little extra for fresh papaya juice. (It was 3 cedis, which would have been about 2 US dollars; that felt kind, of expensive though, so I regarded it as a special treat.)

I've tried Star Beer and Club Beer, both Ghana's own. These are both pretty light lagers, 5.0, and a little skunky. Not too bad though. The first one I drank, I may have stifled a facial reaction, but now I don't really remember what my favorite beers stateside taste like, so... no problem!

That's all for now, I'm sure food will continue to be an interesting aspect of my adventure in Ghana.

Buen provecho my faithful followers!


  1. I wonder what food cravings you'll bring back with you?! Enjoy!

  2. Haha if I were to have an quiteño Pilsener now I'd probably die... But it was the best when it was the best ;-)

    Love this entry. Love food. Love you! Keep livin it up girl!