The food was different. The typical dish that we ate was rice with a red sauce containing some sort of meat. The sauce was usually just tomato with some good spices. The meat was chicken and fish usually but sometimes we got the chewy meat that we guessed had to be goat. Eggs and bread were big there too. The bread was interesting. We never saw commercially produced bread. It was all this very white sweetish bread. It was not bad at all. Most of the food was actually very tasty (at least the first few times we had it).
The aspect of Ghanaian food that I enjoyed most was the fruit. America has done some awful things to kill the taste of bananas and mangoes. There the fruit is picked ripe and sold that day. To our American eyes, the fruit looks overripened only because we are used to eating it unripened. The flavor is much more vivid. If I could have a banana tree in Ohio, I would.
Nevertheless, rice was the staple food of the region. I have heard it is for most of the world and it is no surprise as it is easily stored, sold, cooked. However, after 3 weeks of it I do not wish to see rice again for a while.
The market in Denu gave us an interesting view into Ghanaian cuisine. Fish were everywhere. There was no refrigeration to waste on them so they sat in the hot sun with flies crawling over them all day. The smell was so strong that it was hard for me to breathe in certain places of the market.
The interesting thing to see as an American who is used to supermarkets was how the food had to be sold live (again, there is little to no refrigeration). It was okay to see the things that I am used to seeing like crabs tied chest-to-chest for live sale. Then we came upon the section that sold live ducks and chickens. They have their feet tied together, giving them nothing to do but sit and wait for someone to buy them. Chickens, especially, are very common. We saw ladies with baskets full of live chickens balanced on their heads, people walking with them, and even one guy who had a live chicken thrown over his bicycle handlebars.
The highlight of the market came in a subtle way the second time I went there. Not far from the chickens I saw a scrawny cat, which was not odd until I noticed that the feet were tied! Farther down the road, we saw this beautiful sign. Nuff said?
This has made me much more aware of the food that I eat. What America has done to animals is great for the consumers in some ways. I really appreciate refrigeration now. I never thought that this trip would be as historically informative as it was. Now I have seen a bit of the struggle that mankind has faced with food until this century. It makes me appreciate that meat can be sanitarily produced with little mess on the consumer's part.
The drinks there were monotonous. There were somewhere around 5 kinds of beer and 10 kinds of soda. I did not see a diet soda (or for that matter anything diet) the whole trip. There was Malta (which I have a growing affection for). Malta is a non-alcoholic carbonated drink made from the basic stuff that beer is made of (water, malt, barley, hops, etc…). The difference is that Malta is almost disgustingly sweet usually…but not in Africa. There it is marketed as a health drink and although it is sweet, it is not even close to the sweetness of the Puerto Rico or S. America varieties. It even has vitamins in it. Oh well. The drinks were too expensive for the average Ghanaian to consume regularly.
Water was the main drink. We got Voltic brand bottled water (which I hope never to see again). It got very monotonous. Perhaps it is because we had to drink so much. The water that the average person drank was well water. It would probably have killed us though. There is also the water that was what the city-dwellers drank. Although I do not know of its source, it was sold in polybags. This is a picture of one of the vendors.
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