Ghana: can a chowhound survive?
Off to Ghana for a few days in Accra, then volunteering in the Volta region on the eastern side of Ghana. Anything chowish in Accra that also has some more conservative for my daughter? And are there any hints on how and what to get to eat outside of Accra? I have this huge, probably unfounded fear of a month of stodgy tasteless starches.
Should I bring emergency supplies of garlic and spices? Help, please.
I'll report back on successes, if any.
Haven't been to Ghana in some years, but remember some good and interesting food. Ground nut (peanut) stew, garden eggs (white eggplant), great seafood on the coast. Hmmm - my favorite street food was stew served from a cauldron onto a banana leaf - with a hard boiled egg costing a little extra - from a lady called Mama on an Accra corner. I'm sure there are many wonderful mamas to be found. You can always find freshly ground peanuts in the market for a peanut butter fix - beware, a local seeing you eating plan peanut butter may find it as revolting as it would probably be for you to see someone eating Crisco right from a can, since it's a cooking ingredient. Was once in the town of Ho, waiting for transport to Hoehoe, with a crowd of little kids standing nearby. When we pulled out some peanut butter they stopped what they were doing. When we spread it on bread and took a few bites they fled! Have a wonderful stay in an incredibly wonderful country.
Have you not done any research about the food in Ghana? I don't know where you're from, I'm guessing the U.S. This is Africa we're talking about where most of the spices you probably use back home are used and grown there - no need to bring ANY spices, you will find most of the food very hot and spicy! Street food is amazing - Chichinga (spicy goat/chicken or guinea fowl kebabs) eaten with Kelewele (fried plantain spiced with ginger, chilli and garlic) are delicious. A lot of Ghanaian dishes consist of a carb (cassava, semolina or rice) eaten with a soup ot stew
Light soup/Peanut soup - made with veg, spices and eaten with fish
Okra stew - tomatos, onions, okra and a medley of pork, crab and white fish.
Waakye - Rice made with black eye beans - has a very smoky flavour.
Domedo - Pork, heavily seasoned with spices eaten with semolina.
Jollof rice - Rice cooked in tomatos eaten with fried chicken.
This just a small selection of the foods you'll find everywhere in Accra. Do be careful where you eat, as Ghana is a tropical country and your stomach may not agree with everything you eat (as I soon found out!) and be stingy with the spices! On top of this you'll find some of the most amazing tropical fruit and veg.
So little is known about Ghana. I think people think of Africa as this land of drought and famine with people eating porridge with their hands - it couldn't be further from the truth! Here in London where I'm from, we have lots of good Ghanaian restaurants, so I'm spoilt really!
Enjoy your time there - it's a a great country full of history!
you can get most everything from the US in Accra (at twice the price). plus "chinese" restaurants abound for some reason
if you are in Osu, check out Koala market
conservative would be Papayas for fast food
i think a good place to have african food in a westernized setting would be Buka (in Osu)
you should have no fear about tasteless starch since everything is heavily spiced
kelewele is so good!
jollof rice will feel familiar
more adventurous would be banku or fufu with groudnut/palmnut soup and goat, they also like tilapia a lot
no emergency supplies, but bringing granola bars and such snacks is helpful
how was your trip?
Reporting back on my trip:
1. ACCRA: Stayed at the beginning at Shangri La. Regular restaurant overcooks everything, but the Chinese restaurant there was amazingly good. Try the Mapo Dofu, and any vegetable dish. I bet they have a Chinese cook.
Frankie's: only go if you are American and incredibly homesick for your junky favorites, and don't mind paying a lot for poor simulations. Avoid the burgers unless you like your meat rock hard.
Tribes Restaurant by the ocean, On Liberia Road Extended, in the Afia Beach Hotel: this place is a gem: kind people, good African and western food, real coffee, internet access. Recommended: tomato omelette, Afrokoko (spicy plantain fritters I never saw elsewhere), banana shake, other Ghanaian dishes I've forgotten. If you stay there, you can walk onto the beach.
While staying at Shangri La, I walked to the Shoprite supermarket and bought peanut butter and Laughing Cow (La Vache Qui Rit) cheese and a vaiety of peelable fruits, which were VERY useful in HoHoe. Granola bars useful too, specially for my vegetarian daughter.
HOHOE: Taste Lodge, for good banku with chicken, pancakes (sometimes) and good music and atmosphere. Otherwise mostly street food from the night markets, specially spicy kebabs, hot doughnuts (yum!) and fried or grilled bananas. Hard to find fresh fruit, except at the twice weekly market (Mon and Fri?) which hounds should def visit.
LAKE VOLTA (Akosombo) I had a great time at the Afriko hotel: the setting, the outside pool and the food: my favorite meal so far * and one of my ten best fish dishes of all times* was this whole lake tilapia, fresh and perfectly fried, covered with a salsa of carrot, banana pepper, hot pepper, sweet onion and tomato, with fried plantains as a side. This I ate on a deck overlooking the lake, with its multiple islands, and the deep orange setting sun, while the fishermen rowed their boats into shore. After that, the mediocre breakfast buffet was a disappointment. Oh well...http://www.afrikikowaterfrontresort.com
CAPE COAST: Had tasty peanut soup with chicken and rice at the amenable Castle Restaurant next to the Cape castle
BUSUA (on the west coast, past Takoradi) small unsophisticated village with stunning beach, and surprisingly a French bourgeios inn (Busua Inn). Madame does the cooking, which was very good for Ghana: gaspacho, crepes, tilapia, curried goat. And REAL coffee.
IN SUMMARY: I wouldn't go to Ghana for the food, but palm nut soup, banku, peanut stew and street food were all interesting, and fish, when they didn't overcook it, was outstanding. the things I missed most were real coffee (Nescafe: ugh!), cheese and wholewheat bread.
Thanks for the hints!