Posted tagged ‘garden eggs’

“Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.” 

September 8, 2023

The temperature is already 82°. The three of us, Henry, Nala and I, are happy to be in the cool house. Both dogs are sleeping. They had a hectic morning. They went out quickly, came in for a biscuit, went out again then came in and collapsed on the couch. This is their morning nap time.

I watch YouTube African Walk Videos. Most walks are through markets in Ghana. There is no dialogue except for the sounds of the market, the voices speaking Ga or Twi, the toots of motorcycles and the horns of taxi drivers. The cameraman just walks and never interacts. Along both sides of him, people walk through the market. The women wear tradition cloth or regular dresses or even pants. The men wear shirts, some in Ghanaian patterns. I watch for anything familiar.

The market is divided into sections of similar goods. In the food market section, tomatoes are piled like Jenga blocks. Garden eggs are sold from baskets. Onions, yams and oranges are in piles on the tops of small wooden tables, all of which look alike. The cloth market has folded cloth in tall piles. Picking a cloth in the middle means all of the cloth is taken off the pile then re-piled. Some sandals are in pairs while others are on the floor in a mishmash, jumble of a pile. Enamel pots and pans, toilet paper, plastic containers and whatever you might need is sold in the market. A dirt walkway, wide enough for a moto, a motorcycle, separates two lines of shacks, sort of three sided lean-tos where sellers sit under umbrellas.

I am always amazed by how much Ghanaian women can carry on their heads. I watch for bofrot, my favorite Ghana treat. They are yeasty, sweet deep fried balls of dough and are sold from glass boxes with wooden sides. I have never passed up a bofrot seller.

Watching these videos fills me with an ache, a wish I was there munching on bofrot while shopping in the market. I didn’t know what to expect when I first went to Ghana for Peace Corps training. What I found was a remarkable place with friendly, warm people, a home for those two years and for all the years after.

“And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God.”

June 27, 2017

What was a lovely summer morning with a cooling breeze has become a cloudy day with a dark sky, a rain threatening sky. I shut the window behind me as I felt a bit chilly. The breeze has turned cold.

Yesterday I was able to cross everything off my to do list. That doesn’t usually happen. I felt accomplished.

Gracie got her first tick yesterday. I was patting her ears when I found one on the underside of one ear. It was small and hadn’t embedded yet. I hope it can swim.

I can hear the swishing of the leaves on the oak trees. That is the only sound. I wonder where the birds went.

I once raised chickens. My first laying hen was a gift from a Ghanaian friend. The hen was white and hatched 5 chicks. She was a horrible mother and the chicks began to disappear, eaten by one predator or another. Her second hatching was much the same. I ate her for dinner a couple of nights. Such is the fate of a bad mother hen.

I like to shop at farmers’ markets, especially the one in Bass River. Mostly I buy fresh vegetables though I have also bought cheese, local honey, candles, fresh herbs, desserts, jams and jellies and once some lamb. The market is set up in a circle so I do one loop. It is held every Thursday and Saturday.

One of my favorite places in Ghana was the market in Bolga. Every third day was market day. I had gone to my first market during Peace Corps training. It was a disaster. I got sick from the smells, but, by my live-in in Bawku, three weeks into training, I had stopped noticing. I loved my market. I’d bring my woven shepherd’s bags which stretched and fill them with tomatoes, onions, eggs, garden eggs, okra, oranges, bananas and pineapple. A chicken, bound by its feet, I’d slide onto the handle bar of my motorcycle. Sometimes I’d find a surprise. Once it was a watermelon. I could buy cloth, sandals, pots and pans, dishes, glasses and so much more. I always thought of the market as an adventure.

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

August 16, 2014

The sun is in and out of the clouds. The day goes from strikingly sunny and beautiful to cloudy and dark. The weather in the paper said partly sunny. I guess I didn’t think about the other part.

On Saturday, the day before I left for the Peace Corps, my mother asked me what I’d like for our last family dinner together for a long while. I answered right away: roast beef, mashed potatoes, peas and gravy, all my favorites, and that’s what we had. It is still one of my favorite meals. Mashed potatoes are the height of comfort food for me. My mother’s mashed potatoes were always fluffy and lump less. She used a hand masher, one of those metal ones with a flat grill bottom. I sometimes watched her. She wielded that masher as if it were a weapon in the hands of a master swordsman. She’d add butter and milk and keep mashing. I even remember the bowl she always used to serve the potatoes. It was a wide, not tall, bowl. She’d add the potatoes and put a few pats on butter on top. It was a thing of beauty.

My favorite ice cream changes. When I was a kid, we didn’t have all the choices and exotic flavors we have now. Back then my favorite was a dish of plain old chocolate made exquisite by adding Hersey’s syrup. When I was in high school, it was mint chocolate chip in a sugar cone with jimmies all over the ice cream. I used to buy it at Brigham’s. Mocha chip was my favorite for a while, and I still sometimes buy it, but lately I have been into coconut topped with dark chocolate sea salt caramel sauce. It tastes as superb as it sounds.

I like vegetables, quite a change from when I was growing up. Back then I ate potatoes, peas, corn and French green beans, all of which came from cans. I also ate carrots but they were disguised and hidden in the mashed potatoes. In Ghana I couldn’t get many vegetables. I ate garden eggs which are small egg plants, okra, tomatoes, yam, onions and one year I had green peppers grown from seeds I got from home. I really missed vegetables which I wouldn’t ever have imagined when I was a kid. My favorites are still peas, but corn on the cob and summer tomatoes are on my list of favorites. Just no beans ever!

Traveling gave me the chance to try new foods, and I tried all sorts. I didn’t even know the names of some of them. The food didn’t have to look good as I had grown out of the stage of judging foods by its appearances. I think maybe it was Ghana which taught me that.

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