Thursday, September 17, 2015

Greetings from Ghana

As we were picking up our bags in the Ghana airport, we couldn't resist a picture of this sign!  


Ghanaians use the name "Charley" as an informal-slang, Pidgin-English term.  It is used to emphasize a point, show empathy or just because...   The usage is similar to how we might use "Buddy', "Dude', "Girlfriend" or just as an exclamation.   It originated from WWII as a derogatory reference to the enemy by the Americans.  However, after hearing the term, the Ghanaian soldiers picked it up and started using it in a different context, and continued to the present day.  So, if someone doesn't know your name, you may hear, "Hi Charley" in Ghana.  

This was my first trip to Ghana and I really enjoyed our visit.  After living in Nigeria and Cameroon, I understand why Ghana is considered to be "Africa Light".  It seemed easier and more westernized in many ways with traffic that actually followed the rules.   Ghana is safe, relatively quiet and peaceful.  The country suffers less from crime, corruption and political instability than its neighbors.  Expatarrivals.com says that "The country is a mild introduction to what makes Africa tick, and expats are eased into what to expect before moving on to more intense experiences in countries such as Angola, Nigeria and DRC (Congo)."    

While Charles worked, I went to the Accra Mall not far from our hotel.  It was similar to The Palms in Lagos, including Game and Shop Rite - but with much more selection. 

  I was surprised to see a Payless Shoe Store as well as a Sony and Panasonic shop.  I was also happy to find a Woodin fabric store, which was my objective in Ghana.  

Woodin was my favorite fabric at the markets in Lagos, so I wanted to find it in both Ghana and in the Ivory Coast where it is produced.   The store I visited was small and they suggested a second store in Osu, which I found later.  :) 

I also walked into a store with Vlisco fabric, which is a Dutch wax and a higher quality material.  For those who have seen the shoe bags that we sold for our steward in Lagos, you may appreciate this "high-heeled shoe" fabric which was made into a dress.   The shop doesn't allow photos, so the clerk finally agreed to turn his head and not see me take this one.  :) 

 This particular shoe fabric was 378GH¢, which is about $100 USD per piece.  
It is MUCH more expensive here!  

I had plenty of time and enjoyed walking around ShopRite and seeing the food selection.  

Mama's Choice Fufu Mix 
Fufu is a common food staple all around West Africa made from cassava.  It is a tasteless, glutenous type of starch which is used to 'sop' up soup or other vegetables.  Most dinners are eaten without utensils, so this aids in the process.   
And they even have GRITS!  

  
Shitor Sauce is a very common chili-type sauce in Ghana, but the name just doesn't translate well at all!   **Recipe is below. 

And this Goody's Spicy Black Pepper Shitor Sauce....with Beef Chunks.  Huh?? 

I love butter beans - but not in tangy curry sauce!  Ugh!  


During the drive back to the hotel, we passed the Flagstaff House, 
which is the home and office of the President of Ghana.  

The presidential palace is listed as the 10th most beautiful presidential palace in the world.    

Accra is an interesting city and felt more developed than others we have recently visited.  We look forward to exploring the countryside tomorrow. 


***My recipe for Shito(r) Sauce

Shito is something everyone here in Ghana who makes it has their own special recipe, like Americans all having their own secret recipe for BBQ sauce or chili. Shito does not need refrigeration, but if you want you can keep it there. It does need at least a half-inch layer of oil on top, for it to keep well. Mothers will send jars of shito with their children when they are sent off to boarding school. It goes with just about anything - fried yam or potato, hardboiled eggs, samosas, springrolls, fried fish, meat, beans, etc. -- anything you like spicy.

Here is the list of ingredients:
  • 1 cup ground red chili pepper (cayenne)
  • 3 cups vegetable oil*
  • 2 cups ground dried shrimp**
  • 2 cups ground smoked herring***
  • 1 1/2 cups onion puree
  • 2 medium-size tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 cubes of Jumbo or Maggi seasoning, preferably shrimp flavor (this is optional!)
...and the instructions:
Be sure to use a pan with a heavy bottom, so the sauce won't burn.

Add oil to the pan and heat it. Add onion and tomato ingredients and fry the mixture for about 10 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Add the dry ingredients into the pan, stir well, and continue cooking it for an additional 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.

The finished sauce should be a rich dark reddish-brown color and have a thick texture, not at all runny. Some of the oil may separate out and that is fine. When cooled, put the sauce into a clean glass jar and cover. Make sure about half an inch of oil stays on the top, covering the paste. This sauce keeps indefinitely and does not need refrigeration.

Notes:

* refined palm oil is used here in Ghana, especially Obaapa or Frytol brands are good.

** You can use any size dried shrimp, tiny to big, and if you buy them already ground it saves time. If you start with whole dried shrimp, grind them finely in a mortar or use a blender/food processor to do it for you.

*** Smoked herring refers to small or tiny dried fish, just about any kind.

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