Ghanian Diet

 Posted by Pat O'Malley at 8:43 am  Ghana, Uncategorized
Sep 282015

Many people have asked me about the food here. At the volunteer house Issac cooks for me, I assume he was told what the volunteers probably like, and he keeps things pretty simple.  Breakfast is an African pancake or a fried omelet (no cheese) or the omelet on bread in an egg sandwich.  Lunch and dinner are interchangeable and might have a small piece of chicken for one meal and a hard boiled egg for the other, along with rice, noodles, or yams.

But at the orphanage, it’s unusually not to see people cooking.  Stella is the cook for the children, so what she makes is usually big quantities.  But the girls will make things for the adults or for themselves.

There are a few things that are grown on the property or at the farm, and so they are the staples; corn (maize), cassava, plantains and palm nuts.

Cassava is a root, similar to yam, but white.  They eat a lot of Gari, which involves processing the cassava by washing, peeling, grating, soaking, pressing and drying. The result is a small grain.  They then boil it in salted water, as it cooks it becomes a thick liquid, they add sugar and eat this often for breakfast, or other times.

The corn is dried and then the cornels are pealed and collected in very large bowls or buckets.  They are washed and drained. The children then carry these heavy buckets on their heads to the grinding machine, where they are ground.  They carry them back.  The ground corn is kept in a large plastic bin, but they put layers of sprinkled water in it to keep it moist. This they also put into boiling salt water and sugar to make “porridge” which they also eat a lot.

Two other common foods are Banku and Fufu.  Banku is mainly the ground corn, that they boil in water and mix. This is a long and strenuous process ( over an outside fire) but eventually it becomes a dough consistency. Fufu is ground plantains and cassava. These are first boiled so they are soft and then beat; this is a two person process, where one person puts down the plantain/cassava and the other using a 5 foot pounding pole, pounds the food. They have a rhythm that allows the one person to move the food without getting hit.  So although very different methods and ingredients, both Banku and Fufu are made into large dough balls, the size of a small bowl. These are eaten with soups and sauces of various types.


Palm nuts are also grown locally, they are orange/red berries about the size of a small walnut. First they are removed from the plant, then boiled for some time.  Then they beat them with a large stick, so that they open up, and the yellow stringy inside is exposed.  This is then boiled again, and the oil, palm oil, raises to the top, and is skimmed off. It is used for many things.  The rest of the liquid is used for palm soup.  But the insides are discarded, or sometimes used to help start fires.


Just want to mention one other food story.  This past Saturday on my way to the orphanage I met two of the girls walking the other way to town.  I said I would join them as they had a couple things to buy.  I stopped and got my money, and asked them if they wanted something to eat. I suggested ice cream, as I know they sell it in town, and I haven’t had it yet.  But they both said no, they opted for rice and beans which cost about 25 cents each, and they split a hard boiled egg that cost about 10 cents. Oh well, maybe I will get some ice cream yet!



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