Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday, bloody Sunday

I really hate Sundays. Most of them, anyway. There are some nice ones in between, but usually they are not nice days in my book. I don't know why! In our house, my "Sunday mood" is an established notion. Hubby will ask: Are you in a Sunday mood?
Sunday mood is B-A-D news. On Sundays I just can't think of any fun thing to do. Norwegians use Sundays as a day to take walks, preferably into the bush, far away from civilization. At least, Sunday means outside day. For families. And disgustingly cute couples who walk hand in hand, enjoying a WALK, in the usually not so nice weather. Oh, how fun it is to walk around without a goal. I'm really a negative Norwegian.

I'm not really an outdoor person. That always make me feel like I don't fit in in Norway. Every thing that should be organized, should be outside. "oh, we can have the party outdoors, in the mountains, oh we can go hiking as a team building thing at work, oh, we can have the kids birthday party outside, skiing...etc". And the most shocking for me is when my colleagues at the kindergarten suggest that we should have the summer party outdoors in the garden of the kindergarten... in this wooden hut we have built. With a fireplace inside.
Come on, you guys?! We spend every single day outdoors! Hours on end we are outside, in rain, snow, wind, and occasionally, SUN. And we wear ugly mountaineer clothings. For once, we are gonna have a party, can't we do it indoors, where women can get to put on some nice clothing and make-up and do something we DON'T do everyday? And not freeze? Who says the weather will be nice? When we get home from the party, can the only smoke smell in our clothing be from somebody's sigarette, instead of from a fire outdoors..?
But hey, nobody understands me. I am weird and un-Norwegian! :-)

But the point was Sundays and how boring they make me. I really want to change my Sundays. But what can I do, in a little village, on a Sunday? I get antsy being in the house, but outdoors is of course not tempting me. I could do sensible things like cleaning and cooking and baking. But I don't get around to do it either. The Sunday Mood is a feeling of not wishing to do anything, yet thinking that what you ARE doing (which is nothing), is not what you WANT to be doing.

Ok, I am already regretting sharing this nonsense with you. Don't judge me. I'm not that lazy and boring... Suggestions for fun Sunday activities will be appreciated!

Have a lovely SUNDAY!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

sweet, fat balls of joy

Ye be di den?
Today I wanna talk about the greasy, sweet, soft, melt-in-your-mouth-crunchy-on-the-outside calorie bombs called .... (I'm on thin ice here) Boflot? Bofroot? What is it called? And what is it really made of?

Boflot is a lardy dumpling...made of flour, sugar and fat. Described in this blog it is a "deep fried ball of bread dough" with a little sugar added to it. They are sold from women and men's heads. They carry them around in boxes on their heads, while shrieking "boooooofrooot nieeee" (Boflot is here). Some more established sales women, just sit next to their coal pot, deep-frying the boflots, and selling them at the spot. And they have regular customers who know where to go. When I lived in Atimatim, Kumasi, there was a boflot lady down the road. She isn't there now. SAD.
When we lived in Tema com. 2, a young boy selling boflot came up to our floor one morning trying to sell us in the rooms boflot. Hubby bought from him that day, and since then, he came almost every morning knocking on our door asking if we were getting any. After a while he even knew our names. Unfortunately for us, the very close access to boflot got tempting, and more often than not we bought from him. Unhealthy? Oh yes.

But nothing can compare to biting into a fresh, warm, crisp boflot early in the morning....

*just a moment, AmaBroni is googling for pics of bofroot/boflot/whatever-ot*

These pictures of boflot in the making, and finished boflot resting on it's newspaper wrapping, I have stolen from a culinary blog full of Ghanaian food, called BetumiBlog, described as: BETUMI: The African Culinary Network ( connects anyone who delights in African cuisine, foodways, and food history.

Want more food, check that blog out!
I'm working my way down my bottle of white wine that I won at my wonderful job, where I, by the way, have been offered a permanent contract - cos I'm so gooood. Yay me.

Happy weekend!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

life is a journey

I'm back. Although I have been back from our little trip for days, I am now back in bloggville. Should I continue the food stuff? Or anyone wanna suggest another topic? While you think hard about that, I'm gonna share some images from me and Hubby's journey southwards last weekend.
All my family members, on both my mother and my father's side have happened to settle down in the south of Norway. Not so strange since my father comes from the South. But my mother comes from the opposite side of the country, yet most of her cousins and other relatives has settled down south too. It all has to do with choice of spouses I guess. My mother has no siblings, my father has 2 sisters. Both sisters found husbands from the north and of course, my dad too found a northerner. Only my dad was successfully tricked to move to the high, cold, far away north. Since Norway is a long, long country that takes 3 days to cross by car, we don't go visit our aunt for a weekend or something very often. We rarely see each other. This trip had one major goal - to meet family.

After my dad's oldest sister died when I was in Ghana the last time, I decided to try to see my family more. I was able to get home to her funeral. All our family from my dad's side was there. It is so rare we are all together. It felt good, it felt like I belonged to a bigger, extended family. And that feeling I didn't get often when we lived up north, separated from most of our closest relatives. At our wedding last year, the feeling of family was revived yet again. It felt so incredibly good to know you have these people in your life who travel across the country to be there at your big day. And the amount of support and love they showed was just amazing. I yet against realized I need to keep in touch with my family as much as I can. So, this trip included visit at my aunt and uncle's, visit at my only female cousin (and my childhood heroine), and a lovely get together at my other cousin's house, where my other uncle and cousins also were.

Ok, enough sentimental stuff. Have a look.

Looking at gigantic rock carving from ancient times. Where we were standing, in the middle of farm country,  used to be a beach before the ice age melted away and the land rose.

A sign board at a fortress we visited - Fredriksten Fortress where the Norwegians were protecting themselves against the horrible Swedes. ;-)
In Oslo, I finally got to take a stroll on the new very white Opera House, that has a roof you can walk on. Cool.

 Then 17th of May arrived. The day some brave Norwegian men wrote down our constitution in 1814. It is celebrated this way: Holiday, everybody dresses up, millions of flags, kids parading, shouting hoorray, eating plenty of ice cream and hot dogs, having fun. It's all about the kids really. No military processions like other countries usually have. No display of power. Just kids and happy faces. It's nice. And in Oslo, it's very, very, very crowded!

 Can you spot us? Trying to move down the main street in Oslo. Tip: We are under the balloon.
 The Royal Palace in the background, where the King and Queen with family stand on the balcony each 17th of May and wave to the crowds.

Lovely lunch at my oldest cousin's house and then, sightseeing, still in our fanciest dress (and national costume) with uncle and cousin.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lunch break

I'll be offline for the next 6 days. Hubby and I are finally going somewhere together. Tomorrow after work we travel to Sarpsborg, to visit my aunt and uncle. From there we go to Oslo, Norway's capital, to visit friends and family, AND to celebrate Norway's Constitution Day (cause we celebrate when we got our constitution, not our independence, which, weirdly enough, came after the constitution). More on that later. But that day is a very big deal in Norwegian circles. So celebrating it in Oslo will be cool. I hope I'll catch a glimpse of the king!
Therefore my dear Ghana food lovers and other readers, I'll keep you starving for a while. I hope you will make it through. Here something to chew on while I'm gone...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Sunday Classic

It is Saturday night and we have to discuss the Sunday special in many a chop bar throughout Ghana. For those who don't know what a chop bar is, go to Ghana, look for a funny sign board, like "Don't mind your wife Chop Bar", or "In God we trust chop bar" and enter whatever type of building is there. You will find... Ghanaians, a loud radio, a curtain in the doorway made of bottle tops, and fooooood. Chop means to eat, and chop bars serve traditional Ghanaian meals for a bearable sum of Cedis. The food is plenty, tasty and, yes, cheap. Going to a chop bar is a true Ghanaian experience. And believe me, some chop bars do NOT have white people as regualr customers.

A chop bar that used to be my go to place, was a little wooden shed in Adum, Kumasi. It was hidden through som narrow streets, close to the bus station. Me and my fellow exchange student found it on one of our many times spent together in Kumasi town. An old cute lady was making groundnut soup, fufu, banku, rice balls, rice and stew.. We came in our school uniforms one day, sat on the benches inside and said in our purest twi what we wanted. And it was the BEST banku and groundnut soup I have ever tasted. We came back often. Today, it is crazy to think that these days really happened in my life. Being in Norway now, living such a normal, Norwegian life, thinking back to a time when I walked around in Kumasi in a school uniform, speaking Twi, eating in chop bars is almost unreal... I was such a Ghanaian, although I wasn't. It's 10 years ago.

This was the intro. This post is supposed to be about one of my favorite Ghanaian meals.
Nkateenwan and emotuo, or in plain English:
Groundnut/peanut soup and rice balls.

It is so yummy. I have made a photo montage to show how it's made and with what. This is a Ghanaian meal I have perfected! In fact, my husband said that my groundnut soup tastes better than his mother's! Can you get a greater compliment from a man?  
How to make it... :
Take some meat (I prefer chicken), steam it with onions and garlic and ginger, after a while, and groundnut paste (peanutbutter or blended peanuts, if you can't get the real thing), cook this together for a while so the chicken takes in the peanut taste. After a while, add water, tomato, tomato paste, pepper, salt.. Cook, taste, add more salt, cook, taste, add more pepper.. cook, cook, cook. Boil rice with extra water for extra long, use a big stick to stir it HARD, mash the rice...into a dough of rice. Shape balls out of the rice. Put the soup in a plate, put the rice ball in the soup, eat with your hands, ENJOY!! 

Thanks to Hubby's excellent cooking skills, we enjoy groundnut soup and rice balls in Norway anytime we want. And it tastes almost as good as in Ghana. Highly recommended Ghanaian dish!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ghana's WORST eat

The first period I lived in Ghana, I was an exchange student in High School. I was 18, lived in a Ghanaian family for a year. Alone. Gosh, it was scary. And wonderful.
One of my greatest challenges in the Boamah family was the food. First of all, I was always served my food alone. There was a plastic table outside my room, and my hostmom always came with my dinner on a plate, she knocked my door, I opened, she said "Your food!", dumped the plate on the table and left me to eat alone.

For a Norwegian this goes against everything I've learned. Here, eating dinner together is a social institution. That's one of the few arenas the family meets during a hectic day, where everyone sit down to eat, and TALK, together.
Appearantly, we did it differently in Atimatim, Kumasi, Ghana. I felt so lonely and abandoned eating alone at this table. Luckily I had lots of "siblings", little kids who I asked to join me at the table with their food. If the older siblings or parents saw them eat at my table, they wanted to chase them away, but I assured them I wanted them there. The kids were also free enough to talk to me while they were eating. In Ghana, at least according to Hubby, when you eat, you dont talk. Cause your mouth is busy chewing!

Of course, I realized my family didn't hate me, and therefore placed me alone. They did it out of respect and caring and all nice things, thinking that the best they could do for me was to let me eat in peace. While I just wanted to eat with someone. They all ate by themselves, in different locations around the house. Sometimes I took my food with me to my host brother's room and ate with him. My mother was so harsh and short with her words because she didn't speak much English and was shy of me. I learned Twi, I learned the culture, I learned that the Boamah family was gonna be my family nr. 2, and Mrs. B was really a mother to me.

This post became long. And the title doesn't correlate with the text. Until NOW.
The point was, I was served my food outside my room. The food was often delicious. Sometimes it was the opposite. For my Norwegian taste buds, anyway. The worst I can get in Ghana is something I like to refer to as  Crushed Fish Stew, and boiled plaintain on the side. I dont know where to start. Ghanaians love their fish, and the bones within it. Why? It makes it so uncomfortable to eat when your mouth is full of tiny bones! Sometimes the fish is served whole so you can pick the meat from the bones. But when my mama served Crushed Fish Stew, it was fish, in the sauce, crushed into pieces, together with the delicious bones, together with green leafes (I think spinach), and it with bones. My food was always one plate, and that was the food we had that night. It's not like I could go to the fridge and make myself a sandwich. So most times I tried to force it in me. If Crushed Fish Stew is served with boiled plaintain in addition, you can count me out. I probably sound like a spoilt brat. But I'm not. I just can't teach my mouth to like it. Never. Ever.

So, sometimes it was a good thing to eat in solitude. At least no one would know I didn't finish my dinner.

Seriously, guys, what IS it with the bones?

pic. Me and my mother no. 2

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


In Europe we think of shredded meat from a big roll of meat being cooked in a street kitchen, served in pita bread with garlic sauce, jalapeños and salad. In Norway, a traditional after-closing-hours-on-Saturday-night-meal, and very important for hungover days as well. In e.g. Germany Döner Kebab has almost become the national dish.
But hey, kebab isn't shredded meat in a bread, now, is it?
Oh, no, the real kebab is meat on a stick!

In Ghana this means chunks of BEEF, chicken, or sliced giant sausages, grilled and drenched in pepper, served in news paper wrappings by a nice guy at the  street corner, often referred to as Lambert, or the kebab guy.

The kebab guys where I have stayed in Ghana, have been lovely life savers, super friendly guys, one called LAMBert which we found quite hilarious, the go-to guys if we had a party, or just wanted to enjoy these delicious, hot lollipops of meat. I miss kebab! Or the feeling we had in Community 1 when we lived in a room with a mattress and no money to waste, but decided to buy kebab and coke one night, just to enjoy it. Or when we, in Community 2, desperately needed to spice up our good old rice and stew with some extra meat and bought kebab, carefully removing the pieces from the sticks and put them in our bowl. Always making sure we had an equal number of meat pieces each. I'm getting hungry as I write...

Me and Hubby had a nice division of labor when we had a kebab night. I usually felt shy of going out at night to the kebab stand, cos it is usually placed next to a bar, with lots of people, looking at the obroni all of a sudden emerging from the dark to buy kebab. My job was therefore to go to the nearest shop to buy drinks. In the shop the people knew me, cos I would always come there for other things during the days. Hubby went to do the man job, buy the kebab and hanging around outside the bar. Worked like a charm, but many times Hubby mysteriously ended up doing both tasks. Don't ask me how that happened.
But, I have bought kebab myself. Just so you know it.

I have got to find a way to make kebab the way it is made in Ghana. Should be easy enought, some meat, some sticks, a grill, and red pepper that we have straight from Ghana. But my experience is that no matter how similar the ingredients are, the food we make never really get the true taste of Ghana.

And in Ghana, the kebab guy is never far away...

Pic. 1: Kebab lying on its wrapping paper, ready to be chopped (eaten). The red powder to the left is red pepper. Dip it, if you dare!
Pic. 2: Me, with a cold beer and lovely kebabs in front of me.
Pic. 3: Our room in Comm. 1, with the famous mattress. You'd feel like eating kebab too, if you were to be in this room, right?