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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Field Trip... Excursion... Potato... Pota-toe

I was soooo thankful to get a free day to go on a field trip excursion with my students last Friday.

The writer's club went on an excursion to Accra to visit Parliament and the High Court. It was long trip but much fun because the crowded bus passed time by singing church songs with the accompaniment of a drum and other noisy instruments.

Parliament was nice to visit and we even sat in on a session. It was quite boring honestly... But it was funny watching the parliamentarians argue with each other. One minister complained that another minister was ill prepared for defending a proposal and said, "You are playing with the thing but you don't know the thing!" If  you don't know, he was (somewhat inappropriately) quoting a popular hiplife jam titled "The Thing" by Atumpan. Youtube it, it's a catchy song.

Hearing the hook in a serious Parliament hall was much more hilarious.

The High Court was really interesting but due to lack of time, we couldn't take a tour. Still a fun trip nevertheless.

Ode to fufu

I'm going to tell you a story.
I remember when my mother used to serve us perfectly kneaded mashed potatoes as fufu. It was in a huge can and she would cut a side of the can open and out will pour the powdered mashed potatoes. She would add water and knead it with a wooden stick and serve with the choice soup of the day. As a kid, I wouldn't eat the fufu unless she cut it into smaller pieces that made it easier to eat. I loved the stuff.
Come mid 90's, immigrant Ghanaians didn't have to eat mashed potatoes anymore because fufu now had a closer counterpart. It came in flavors of cocoyam and plantain and now it came in a box.

It was as close to fufu you were going to get in America. I grew up on both types of fufu and can still recall my shock when I first visited Ghana in '02 and learned that our fufu wasn't real fufu...

Real fufu takes time and preparation. 

Real fufu is made from freshly boiled plantain, cassava, and cocoyam. 

Real fufu is real manual labor. 

Real fufu is pounded into a soft mound with the help of a pestle, mortar, and two humans

Real fufu is delicious. 

I soon realized why my mother had to have her fufu every night back home in the States. I realized that it was the closest she can get to home; the comfort of swallowing a soft mound of mashed potatoes coupled with Jif peanut butter soup was as close as she was going to get to this revered favorite dish to the Akan (mostly, Asante) people. I never understood the joy and pleasure of eating fufu until my current stay in Ghana.

It's all I want. I actually salivate at the sound of the pounding and the aroma of the soup. I have students who come to pound fufu for me on the weekends and yes, I can make soup now:) The soup with fufu in the last image was made by moi! The only sad part is that fufu cannot be saved for the next day so you make enough to go around. What usually happens is that the soup I make runs out the same day and I lose about $10 dollars of meat... but that's okay.

My mother warned me about eating real fufu because she was wary of how it is prepared since they use fresh water to help form the fufu. I fixed this possible issue by making sure my students use bottled water and keep their hands clean. I've eaten fufu at home, at my grandparent's home, and even at (clean) chop bars. Haven't gotten sick once.

Just fat, full, and satisfied.

Do you have a fufu story?

Good times Accra

I had a chance to "bo life" a couple of weekends ago on Farmer's Day weekend. I met up with colleagues, Amy S.and Amy T. in Accra for a wonderful 3 day weekend. Teachers love three day weekends too:)

On Friday morning, we went searching for a place to have a nice breakfast and after getting lost for a while, we got to our destination at Cuppa Cappucino.  Cuppa is a quaint coffee shop hidden in Airport Residential and an absolutely perfect place to chill with friends or enjoy a smoothie and magazine on your own.

It was just too cute, especially with the Christmas ornaments hanging from the ceiling. I had a delicious mango smoothie and chicken sandwich.


We headed off to the beach to spend a few hours. Beaches and holidays in Ghana pretty much go together and I wanted to avoid the hustle and hassle of Labadi beach so I directed our taxi driver to Tawala Beach, which is also in La. The beach was perfection: close in distance, clean, no hovering sellers, and free! We enjoyed the breeze and drinks and even got a chance to witness a music video in the making. 

It was interesting and odd.....:)

That evening, we traversed to Osu and had dinner at Buka!, a Ghanaian/Naija restaurant. The place was beautifully and romantically decorated with bamboo stilts and peacock images. The banku and tilipia had to be the best I have. ever. eaten. 

We capped the evening off with drinks at Ryan's Irish Pub and had the chance to play Scrabble! It felt so good to play the game again and we temporarily forgot that we were still in Africa. The Irish pub was everything like an Irish pub with the loud music and mismatched wall colors... For that hour, it felt good to get away from Ghana. I lost the game of Scrabble woefully; I was a sore loser because I rarely lose at Scrabble!

The next day we, went to the garment district of Makola Market.... Going to market is nerve-wracking because of the bustle, sounds, smells, and constant movement. My grandmother can maneuver Kejetia market in her sleep; I freak out at the sight of so many people at one time. If I knew my way around, then I could compare it to going to the mall but without the fixed prices.... Kejetia is in Kumasi, Makola is in Accra. Makola, in my opinion, is easier to get around because it seems more open-air than Kejetia. Plus, I've visited this market with a friend in the past and she did a good job at helping me get around. This time around, I was very, very, proud to be able to get around in Makola on my own. Amy T. sought for new cloth to sew and I got my grandmother a watch for Christmas. It was a huge deal for me because it was the first time I was in the midst of so many beautiful pieces of ntoma and did not buy even one yard. If you knew me, you would know that is a huge deal.  

From eating Italian gelato to going to the movie theater, Accra gave me what I needed which was a Western break. I had so much of a good time which resulted in me being so broke but it was worth every pesewa because I came back to my mountain refreshed and satisfied. I'll be back for the New Year and for even more of a good time with familiar company.