Translation: eating food (hopefully got the write translation from our two classes of Twi)
Coming to Ghana, I knew little about its cuisine. Of course, I had heard about the Battle of Jollof in West Africa but did not know about the other foods that I would be trying in Ghana. Food is a very important component to one’s culture – a dish is usually the first thing that comes to mind when asked to describe one’s culture – and I was able to learn more about its significance during our first Twi and Akan culture course at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (or Tech for short).
The diverse cuisine in Ghana differs from region due to the resources that they have in hand. Kumasi is in the forest region of Ghana, meaning that its fertile soil allows for a wide range of vegetation. Some foods that I have liked and had multiple times include Red Red, yams (fried and steamed), fried plantains, garden egg stew, omo tuo, and of course jollof. Though these dishes and items are made from vegetables that I am familiar with, the textures and flavors that makes it a Ghanaian dish were not. While all these dishes can be made at home, there are countless road-side vendors that sell them too. Other road-side foods that I have tasted include different fruits, FanIce/FanYogo (ice-cream and frozen yogurt that are sold in plastic packets) and spring rolls. These items can be found on the side of the road or can also be bought from vendors who carry the snacks on their heads wile in your car when stuck in traffic.
From the dishes that I have tasted, majority of them are carbohydrates. I have had different forms of rice (fried rice or jollof) for two meals on the same day many times. Since rice and other carbohydrates can be easily produced in Ghana and in mass, many of its foods involves rice, beans, potatoes, corn, etc. Carbohydrate-based foods have become so accessible that the “average consumer makes use of street foods six times in a week and there was a penchant for carbohydrate based foods over other types of street foods” (Hiamey et al). Reasons behind consumer’s choice include cost saving, convenience and, overall, was for reasons other than nutrition and health. I have already grown accustomed to the cheapness of meals, and especially of road-side meals in Ghana, that jollof in a restaurant that costs 30 cedis ($6) is expensive. The inexpensiveness of foods makes it easier for me to try new dishes whenever and wherever, while also allowing me to gain new understandings of Ghanaian culture through food. Thankfully, I have not gotten any tummy issues from the foods that I have eaten, but unfortunately the same cannot be said about other members in the group. Hopefully I will be able to continue to test my culinary boundaries and taste Ghanaian cuisines, while not testing my digestive system.
For further information on Ghanaian food, click here.
Hiamey, Stephen Edem, Francis Eric Amuquandoh, and Grace Aba Boison. “Are We Indeed What We Eat? Street Food Consumption in the Market Circle Area of Takoradi, Ghana.” Nutrition and Health22, no. 3–4 (October 2013): 215–35. https://doi.org/10.1177/0260106015599482.