Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cooking in Ghana

I’ve been staying in a guest room attached to the hospital administrator’s house at St. Martin’s Hospital in Agroyesum for the past two weeks. Everyone in the hospital has been extremely gracious and accommodating from helping out with my research to letting me observe in the hospital to trying to cook American food for dinner for me. Besides inundating them with Michigan gear, I wanted to do something more personal for everyone, so I thought I’d cook…something Chinese or American.

However, this is a lot easier said than done. Obstacles I need to navigate:

  • Daily irregular power outages
  • Vegetables available: lettuce, green peppers, green onions, onions
  • Meat available: chicken and maybe goat
  • Seafood available: canned mackerel
  • Carbs available: rice, bread, spaghetti, yams, plantains
  • Spices available: salt, cayenne pepper
  • Other proteins: peanut butter, beans, eggs
  • No cheese
  • Unclear on the pots and pans available
  • My own limited cooking repertoire

The unavailability of pork or even better ground pork eliminates a lot of Chinese dishes that would have been fun to demonstrate like wontons and dumplings. I didn’t want to make fried rice because they have that and I didn’t want to make a noodle dish like lomein because that again is too similar to what they already eat. I could do Chinese cold noodles, but I’m not sure if peanut butter sauce would be a hit. No cheese means no Italian. After much thought and remembering that Opoku Trading Center, an “Abrofo Market” (White Man’s Market) in Kumasi, carried cake mix, I decided to bake cupcakes. For those cupcake masters reading this, yes, I’ll be making them with a mix rather than from scratch…don’t judge! The typical Ghanaian meal never seems to include sweets or dessert, so this will hopefully be unique enough.

This past weekend, I went to Kumasi and bought cupcake pans and cake mix. Maybe muffins will be a better description since frosting may be hard to pull off…we’ll see what I can do. Wish me luck! I really hope this won’t turn into a disaster! Pictures to come soon.

What Chinese/American dish would you have suggested to best showcase a different cuisine?

1 comment:

  1. I would say pizza is the most iconic American food, but no cheese makes this all very difficult.

    Do they have a flat bread? Because you could make tacos/fajitas by sautéing up some pepper and onion and chicken. And if there are leftover cooked beans, you can fry and then mash them in a pot, and voila - refried beans.

    And I think sweets are a great idea! If you can manage to find some white sugar, I have the easiest peanut butter cookie recipe for you:
    1 cup peanut butter
    1 cup white sugar
    1 egg
    Mix, plop onto cookie sheet in little teaspoon-sized balls. You can press them down with a fork to give the cookies cute cross-hatch patterns. Bake at 350F (176C) for 8 minutes. It yields about a dozen, so you can easily double the recipe if you have enough of the ingredients.