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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Food! Glorious Food!


Throughout induction week we ate rather well…as we were staying in a guest house we ate in restaurants every evening, and breakfast and lunch was delivered to the IS office.  This arrangement meant the food was pretty good in general!

Ghanaian food is quite simple, lots of the same ingredients repeated in various ways, yet with different spices and compiled in various ways, you sometimes forget that you are eating the same foods you ate the day before.  Here is a selection of some of the Team Sandema favourites:

Red Red:


Deep fried plaintains with black-eyed beans cooked in a red palm oil and with crushed tomatoes (and a lot of spice!).  I think it is a little bit like the Ghanaian version of sweet potato wedges!  







Groundnut Soup and Rice balls:

Quite a self-explanatory dish, this is soup made from ground-nut paste, and rice made into balls…simple right?  It is absolutely delicious, and often comes with guinea fowl, goat, or chicken in the soup.  After two weeks of cooking for ourselves, we were lucky enough to be invited to our project co-ordinator’s (Maxwell) house for dinner and his lovely wife made us this dish…suffice to say we all went to bed that night feeling stuffed and with a smile on our faces!




Tilapia:


If you go into a restaurant and the menu says “fish” you are most likely going to receive Tilapia…and you will be very happy about this!  Tilapia is a white, river fish, and is usually (like everything else in Ghana) cooked in spices.  This week we had a drink at the local (only) bar in Sandema with Maxwell and one of his very generous friends, Pascal, who surprised us by bringing out a HUGE Tilapia for us to share.  We were all so engrossed in devouring this delicious dish that we unfortunately forgot to take a picture….but you just need to trust me that it was scrumptious!

Whilst we may have been able to sample some delicious Ghanaian food in restaurants, since arriving in Sandema we have mostly been cooking for ourselves.  Although, cooking probably isn’t the right word!



Our first night's dinner attempt... to be fair we had no kitchen at this point!



In our little kitchen in our compound we have a fridge-freezer (height of luxury) and a 2 ring gas stove.  All of our meals have to be cooked on this, and for a Chef or cooking maestro this might not be an issue, but for us, our meals are somewhat limited.  Poppy mentioned in an earlier blog about the market, and in Sandema we are reliant on the fresh fruit and veg that arrive on market day (every 3 days).  In Sandema, our options are limited and each week our meals are combinations of tomatoes, green peppers, cabbage, onions, garlic, and carrots, with either rice or spaghetti.  This week we actually found plaintains so I tonight I attempted to cook Red Red for dinner, and whilst it didn't quite look (or taste) like the picture above, I think it was a fairly decent attempt (if I do say so myself!)!! 

I am so lucky to have the most prepared team in the world, who all came with a selection of stocks, spices, and sauces to make our meals a little bit more interesting.  Here is a taster from the Team Sandema cookbook:


Tomato-based Rice:


Willy is sort of a genius at creating delicious tomato based sauces, which he concocts using fresh tomatoes, tomato puree, green peppers, onions, garlic, and sometimes a little dash of Levi Roots’ sauce (imported from Harrogate).  Mixed with rice, this has become a staple of Team Sandema’s diet.
You can substitute the rice for spaghetti to create Tomato-based Spaghetti (this is considered an entirely meal!)

Bruschetta:     

                                      
Sandema is getting a little posh with our food selection, and have discovered a way to make our own version of Bruschetta, by frying the bread, and creating a tomato and onion and garlic mix to put on top. DELICIOUS and can rival any fancy restaurant back home!


SAUSAGES!!
Since arriving in Sandema we have struggled to find sausages, and it has been one of the only downsides to living in such a small town.  However, on a little shopping adventure this week Will and Jenna stumbled across Sandema’s very own version of Iceland and lo and behold found sausages hanging out in a freezer!  What a discovery!  Now these are not your average pork sausages you might find in a chiller section of Asda, in fact we still aren’t too sure what animal these sausages come from, but they are delicious and made a huge change to eating rice or spaghetti.  We have been quite lucky this week in our grocery shopping as we also found plantains (quite rare in Sandema, ten a penny everywhere else) and so tonight we had a veritable feast of sausages, eggs, plantain and our favourite tomato-green pepper-ratatouille type creation.  Heaven!

Next time you head to the supermarket for your big shop, think about how much harder life would be if you could only buy fresh produce every 3 days, and if you could never know what food would actually be available in the market.  I’m certainly never going to take for granted all the rows upon rows of fresh foods and storecupboard “essentials” again.

As the weeks progress we will update the Sandema cookbook!

- Tracy

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