Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What we chop


"I am blessed to have a generous and lovely counterpart who in so many ways is very fantastic. She is such a lovely and caring person. But one day, my counterpart gave me an egg which was not well cooked to eat. When I try eating it, it did not go down as expected as a normal well cooked egg. Also, she prepared another food call spaghetti which she use tomato paste, garlic, and salt in making it which tested good but I could not eat much because the tomato paste was too much for me which I thought she was trying to kill me when she gave me these to take. This has made me to know how some foods are made in UK differently from Ghana of which I can make it myself.

Runny egg - a popular UK food. Source: Google

Any way, we all have different culture in the way we eat, she eat every food we are served with a spoon including TZ, and BANKU. She even says I can’t eat the TZ and BANKU because it is hard to swallow whiles I eat every food with my fingers and at times with a spoon when it is rice. Also, our host brother ask her to eat with her fingers and she refused to and said it is disgusting to eat with her fingers and she went and brought him a set of cutlery to eat and we find it funny and we all laugh over it. As time go by my counterpart started learning how to eat with her fingers but if she is eating with her fingers you cannot hold yourself from laughing because she has to raise her head up and then put the food in her mouth. 

When it comes to food choice during lunch time, which we are not provided with in our host homes, the UK volunteers goes to Hippo’s to eat fried rice, drinks, and bread with eggs which is expensive whiles the Ghanaians goes to get food which is less expensive because they don’t want to go back home without money on them. But the UK volunteers do not share their monies with their families because they have to take care of themselves and cannot also spend Ghana currency in UK when they go back home after the project, because of this they do not see the need to save money. But the Ghanaian volunteers have to spend their monies with their families and even after the project. they can still spend their monies after the project so there is the need to save money.

The LIFE programme has helped me to learn different cultures – about UK and other communities in Ghana. Now I can live with all kinds of different people."


"The Ghanaian diet is very different to a UK diet. Despite initial complaints, it’s now grown on me to the extent where I will reject fried rice or Indomie (pot noodles but with added egg and veg) with the promise of enjoying a Ghanaian soup instead. The soups consist of ground peanuts (or ‘groundnut’ as they are known here), various spices and often contain some form of fish or meat. They are eaten with banku (a mixture of fermented corn and cassava dough) or TZ (a slightly more gooey textured carbohydrate similar to banku). Bread is eaten frequently, but bread and soup are two things that are not merged here – bread is seen exclusively as a breakfast item.

Banku - a Ghanaian delicacy.

The social etiquette around dining is just as alien to the UK volunteers as the food itself is. If you walk into a room and someone is eating, they will say ‘You are invited’.  I’ve only discovered in the last couple of weeks that this can mean ‘you can join me with my food’ and also ‘you may engage with me whilst I eat my food’. Still not sure which if I’m completely honest, but I have yet to start tucking into anyone’s meal following this statement, so I don’t believe I’ve offended anyone too drastically.

Another area where social etiquette differs between Ghana and the UK is with respect to who is expected to pay for dinner. In the UK, we live in an individualistic society where each person pays for themselves. If you cover the cost of someone’s food or drink, it is often as a treat, or with the expectation that next time, they will pay for you. However, in Ghana, a collectivist culture is embraced in which if you invite someone somewhere, the expectation is that you are prepared to cover their costs for the duration of the event, or that each person should contribute to a bill what they personally can afford to pay. Unfortunately, this difference can cause misunderstandings between British and Ghanaian people. For example, when I offered to organise a birthday party for my host brother, my host family initially thought I was offering to pay for all the food and drink. Thankfully, I have a great relationship with my host family and there were no hard feelings when I explained my original intentions.

Generosity is deeply engrained in Ghanaian culture.  Ghanaians expect to cater for any number of people, because if more people arrive, they are all invited to join the dinner table. If there is not enough, they cook more. This causes no offense – it’s not viewed as rude to turn up unannounced. It is expected that if you made the effort to go somewhere, this effort should be reciprocated."

By Joana Nabilla and JD

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