Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sophie's Experience: A Taste of the Good LIFE

Happy Sophie with an Unidentified Flying Pineapple 

One question people at home in England ask me a lot is: “What is the food like over there?” and the simplest answer I can give is – different.

In the UK we are spoilt for choice when it comes to food, with different takeaway options, more restaurants than necessary and supermarkets stocking food plucked from each and every corner of the world. However, this is not the case in Sandema, where all food seems to be locally sourced. But that's not to say the food here isn't as good!

Ghanaian meals tend to comprise one of eight staple foods, including yam, plantain, rice, rice balls, indomie, banku, fufu or TZ and are served with a variety of soups and stews.

To begin with, some of the dishes were a challenge to take, such as banku, as the textures are so different to what I am used to in the UK. However, I have grown to love most of the dishes here, with TZ and guinea fowl being high on my list of favourite Ghanaian meals, along with fried yam and peppe (like chilli)!

Our favourite yam and plantain vendor 

One thing I have found hard to come to terms with is that snacking is not part of Ghanaian life like it is in the UK. People prefer to eat three large meals, rather than having snacks throughout the day and smaller portions at meal times. This means that I have had to adapt my diet to include less snacks and larger meal sizes. Snacks we have been able to come across though are nuts, biscuits, fruit, chocolate (at an exceptionally high price) and ice cream type products which have become the most frequent part of the UK volunteers’ diets.

Something that I was shocked by in Ghana is how little fruit and veg is included in Ghanaian diets due to the cost of them (they are usually more expensive than ice creams!). I see fruit and veg as a luxury that I'm excited to have whenever I get the chance. I never thought that I would become so grateful for the low prices of fruit in the UK. Nonetheless, I can say that the fruits here in Ghana are so much more flavoursome due to the fruits being locally sourced and grown in season.

Roseanna buying fruit
Although it is more costly than the street food we usually buy for lunch, we occasionally go to a restaurant called “Hippos” where we eat fried rice and chicken. We treat "Hippos" as a luxury because the food is served to us at a table and we can eat and socialise as a team. I savour the meal and the time I am able to spend with my team.

In conclusion, the Ghanaian diets vary hugely from what we are used to in the UK and that can sometimes be a challenge, but the foods are filling and full of flavour. For the days when I do need home comforts, I have created some “food hacks” to bring me a little closer to home!

“Food Hacks”:

Fried yam with ketchup and/or mayo – a substitute for chips
Ketchup with Frytol oil – salad dressing
Bofrot with FanIce inside – ice cream filled doughnut 
FanIce in Perk biscuits – ice cream sandwich
Melted FanIce – vanilla milkshake
Plantain with FanIce – banana split
Crackers with chopped tomato, garlic, pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil – hors d’oeuvres

Fruit stall

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