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


Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Crushed Fish Stew, huh? The bones are probably too difficult to take out. But I know that the Ada people have a great de-boning technique. And I think your hubby is right about the traditional concept of no-chat eating.

These posts are coming out nicely, Yngvild.

Maya Mame said...

I love the story around the food (because frankly the food in this post was not enjoyable, even to read about). Have the same problem, both with the eating alone and the bones. Funnily enough I have just finished my kontomire stew and made sure not to pick any fish because of those dry, sharp bones!

Keep up the good work!

Yngvild said...

@Nana Yaw: Thanks for the idea! You challenge me. but you didnt explain why you enjoy chewing bones so much!

@Maya mame: Thanks! I think it will be more interesting stories around food rather than than writing about the food itself. Good to know that not all Ghanaians have this passion for BONES in the food :)

xl pharmacy said...

Sounds like a bad dish, I couldn't eat something with bones in it.