To say we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the wide variety of foods we have in Ghana would be a gross understatement!! Words like blessed, advantaged, favored
( and on and on) come into mind as I ponder over all the various staples we have in the country that can readily be combined into mouth watering and healthy dishes that tickle one’s culinary fantasy.
As we travel across the length and breathe of the country, across the various regions, we come across root crops, cereals, grains and a variety of vegetables that come together in culinary harmony to give us dishes that not only stimulate our taste buds but also serve as a befitting answer to our hunger pangs.
Yam, cassava, plantain, maize, millet and many more are metamorphosed into foods such as ‘Fufu’ ‘3tó’ , ‘Banku’, ‘Gari’, porridges and many more. Rice is reinvented into age- old favorites such as ‘Jollof’, ‘Waakye’ and ‘Omo Tuo’. Our unbelievable array of vegetables are changed into various stews, soups and sauces that serve as worthy partners to these various preparations.
Wow! What more can a people ask for? It should be a walk in the park, a done deal when it comes to appreciating and utilizing our wonderful foods right? wrong. I would stick my neck out at this point and try to identify 2 major factors that serve as hindrances to us fully appreciating and benefiting from our enormous array of foods.
First, there’s the issue of looking down on things that are our own. We sometimes tend to downplay what is typically Ghanaian, and our foods are no exception. Would we be willing to serve our dishes at parties, conferences and other special events? How far would we be willing to go in giving our foods the push and promotion they deserve? Some countries are stuck with monotonous and sometimes difficult to eat foods, yet their citizens patronize them. Let’s utilize what we have.
Secondly, there’s that big issue of unflattering myths that surround our foods. Interesting stuff like ‘gari’ giving eye problems, ‘Fufu’ making children unable to walk and my all- time favourite, Okro giving waist pains and leading to impotence amongst many other unbelievable stuff are swallowed hook, line and sinker by many people.
These create unnecessary ‘fear and panic’ which leads to unnecessary avoidance of certain foods. Well, there we have it. Some food for thought (pun intended) and hopefully some praise for our Ghanaian foods. Let’s support our own.
The Writer is Dede Kwadjo, a Dietician/Nutritionist and a member of the Ghana Dietetics Association. She lives in Accra, Ghana. You may reach her directly via Dede.email@example.com
Fufu, Banku, Omo Tuo, 3tó are Ghanaian dishes.
Gari is an African food made from cassava tubers.
Okro is a slimy green podded vegetable grown in the tropics, and which supposedly originated from Ethopia.
Jollof is a popular one-pot rice dish eaten in many West African countries.
Waakye is a Ghanaian dish cooked of rice and beans.