Posted tagged ‘Fufu’

“We had so much fun in Ghana and they are really lovely people.”

May 22, 2015

The rain started around 12:30 last night. I was lying in bed when I heard the first drops plunking the sill then more drops. The sound was soothing almost like a lullaby. I drifted off to sleep. When I woke this morning, everything was soaked but the rain had stopped. The sky soon cleared and the sun came out. The morning has that after rain chill you know won’t last.

The spawn and I are now openly avowed enemies in an endless war. When I saw it on the feeder earlier, I went out and tried to sneak the hose, but the spawn heard, jumped off the feeder and sat on the back of the lounge chair flitting its tail at me and chattering. It was irate. I got the hose anyway, and the spawn took off running onto the branches still chattering at me. It stopped a couple of times, looked at me and let me have it. Later I noticed it was back so I went out on the deck, but the spawn immediately took off though I think I managed to spray it a bit. This spawn has become my white whale.

Last night I watched an old Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. It was his trip to Ghana which I had seen first time around in 2007. It was Bourdain’s first trip to sub-Saharan Africa which, according to him is a large, mysterious land mass. On the voice-over he mispronounced Accra then did it again and again even though the Minister correctly pronounced. He also mispronounced akpeteshie, a homemade really strong alcohol in Ghana. He drank it a few times and raised his glass in appreciation, but I don’t think he really liked it. His face was a giveaway, but he didn’t want to offend so he smiled and the Ghanaian men loved it. The filming was all over Ghana and even in the Northern Region though he didn’t take an overnight bus but rather a Ghanaian Air Force helicopter. He ate in a chop bar, in a market and right by the ocean with the Minister of Tourism. He said he loved the variety of hot peppers which I didn’t always. Sometimes the food was so hot you couldn’t taste other than the pepper. He had it all, the best Ghanaian food: kenkey, fufu, t-zed, palm nut stew, groundnut stew and rock lobsters fresh from the ocean. I envied him the lobsters and remembered eating them in Dix’s Cove. We had paid a couple of guys who got them for us right there in the water then they boiled them in a pot on a charcoal burner sitting on rocks by the water. That was an all time amazing meal. I watched Bourdain wander through Makola Market tasting food along the way. He ate plantain chips and I wanted some. He even tried grasscutter and was glad he hadn’t seen one until after he’d eaten. It is a rodent but a rather tasty rodent.

I loved watching Ghana unfold through dancing, music, Kente weaving, clothes made of colorful cloth, the faces of its beautiful children and the joy the Ghanaians take in welcoming a visitor. Bourdain got that part perfectly.

“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”

March 29, 2014

Last night it rained, and it is still damp, but it’s warm. I stood out on the deck for a while after I filled the bird feeders. Gracie wandered the backyard. The snow is pretty much gone. It will be 49˚ today. The rain will be back this afternoon.

I had Chinese food for dinner last night. It got me thinking about food. I was the average kid who didn’t like a whole lot of vegetables, who found the idea of eating vegetables a parental conspiracy. Potatoes, especially mashed, were at the top of my willing and eager to eat list of foods. Canned LeSueur peas were also a favorite. My mother made us eat carrots, and I think that was it for my list of acceptable veggies. We never had salad except in the summer, and it was usually potato salad, not greenery. Italian and Chinese were the only foreign foods we all ate. The Chinese was always take-out.

It wasn’t until I went to Ghana that my palate expanded. Those two years were filled with new experiences and eating strange foods was one of them. It was there I first tasted Indian food. The restaurant, The Maharaja, looked liked what I always imagined an Indian restaurant to be. It had colorful fabrics on the walls, cushions on the floor for seating and a menu of foods totally unfamiliar to me. I read the descriptions and ordered. The food was delicious. I add Indian food to my list. Talal’s was a small Lebanese restaurant near the Peace Corps office. Volunteers ate there so often the owner made what he called a Peace Corps pizza. It was pita bread with tomatoes and melted cheese. Talal’s was where I first ate hummus and tabouli and falafel. The hummus was served on a flat plate. In the middle was sesame oil and around the top of the hummus was a ring of red cayenne pepper. I used to dip my bread in the oil and scoop up the peppered hummus. I still eat my hummus that way, with the red pepper. There was one Chinese restaurant way out of Accra, a one cedi ride which was about the highest cab fare we’d ever pay. It had an outside eating area. Going there was a treat because of the cost and we weren’t often in Accra. The restaurant was across the street from the Russian Embassy. The food was different from the Chinese food I ate at home. On later trips, I’d eat Chinese food in other countries and find the food was different everywhere from country to country. I ate Ghanaian foods all the time: t-zed, fufu, kenkey, which I never liked, kelewele, which I loved, yam, grasscutter and other foods I didn’t want identified. I ate chickens I bought live and beef of dubious age and condition: unsanitary was a given. I bought food along the road and never gave thought as to its origin. I drank water with floaties, the name we gave to bits of stuff floating in the bottles which once held beer.

After Ghana, I always tried local foods on any trip. I ate all sorts of vegetables and meats. In some countries, the less I knew the better the food tasted. I’ll try almost anything now. Innards, however, are not among them. I tried tongue once and once was enough. It was creepy looking served on a bed of lettuce as if somebody was under the table sticking his tongue out at me. I ate Rocky Mountains oysters and once was enough.

I scoff sometimes at people who won’t try new foods or old foods they didn’t like as kids, who look and never taste. They are missing the most amazing experiences: different spices and herbs, strange ingredients and foods with unknown origins. I’m glad to be a food junkie.

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”

April 8, 2011

Warm weather is coming. Starting tomorrow it will be in the 50’s for the next four or five days. My only wish is that the wind takes a break and stays off-shore so we can enjoy the weather. Gracie and I have a few things to do this morning then we’ll be back to watch the Red Sox play their home opener. Never in my scariest nightmares did I expect them to be 0-6 to start the season. Maybe playing the Yankees this afternoon will raise them to a higher plane.

I don’t cook for myself very often. It just seems too much trouble to pull out the pots and pans. Most times I just fall back on cheese and crackers or a sandwich. I keep hummus in the fridge, and there are always eggs, but, if the truth be told, my diet is sadly lacking in vegetables though I do take vegetable credit for coleslaw with its cabbage and carrots. I really like vegetables so there are no reasons to avoid them. I swear it’s just laziness as most go best with a meal to complement them. Carrot sticks might just be my salvation.

I don’t think I have had okra since I was in Ghana, but okra stew was one of my favorites though I had to overcome the slime when I first ate it. In the far north where I lived, it was often served with tuo zaafi, better known as T-zed in English. T-zed is like a thick porridge and locally it was made from millet. I’d grab a piece of T-zed and then dip it into the stew. It was delicious. Groundnut stew was another favorite to eat with T-zed. I never would have imagined a soup with a peanut butter base, but it was wonderful. Usually it came with chicken.

In Bolga, chop bars lined the lorry park. They were hole-in-the wall places to eat with unmatched tables and rickety stools or chairs. In the back, the sound of fufu being pounded was a sign dinner was nearly ready. I’d buy my fufu with whatever stew was available, place it in a pot and drive it home on my motorcycle holding the pot with one hand and steering with the other. I guess I’d call it take out.

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