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Published: October 9th 2009
Step By Step Directions on How to Cook in Ghana:
1) Walk 15 minutes to the front gate of school, get hassled by the cab drivers for ignoring them, and proceed to wait for an indefinite amount of time until you hear a tro-tro (the Ghanaian hybrid of public transportation and car-pooling) “mate” (guy who collects the money) yelling out “Accra, ‘cra, ‘cra, ‘cra, Tema Station.” Try not to get sardined into the tro by the other 50 Ghanaians waiting for the two seats available. 30 minutes and three buckets of sweat later (these large vans hardly have windows that open, let alone air conditioning!), arrive at the Tema Tro-Tro Station in downtown Accra, and head towards Makola market, in order to buy pots and pans, utensils, and ingredients.
2) Get hassled by vendors at the station for a number of things: not buying from them, being obruoni, etc. Get suckered into buying stuff from an elderly vendor lady, who says she will give you “very niiiiiice price.” Swing by the Ghanaian supermarket, Melcom, while you’re downtown, to find out you paid the street vendor double what the store is charging for your utensils, pans, and ingredients…you are obruoni, afterall.
3) Make your way back to the tro station and repeat the tro scenario from step 1.
4) Once you’re home, unpack the supplies and realize you need other ingredients because neither the markets nor Melcom sell anything perishable or cold. Walk 15 Minutes to the front gate of school again, and find a tro going toward the Accra Mall. Once there, head toward the mecca that is Shoprite. (Shoprite is a “real” supermarket, complete with a frozen section, fresh produce, and canned goods) Proceed to have a heart attack when you get to the cash register and realize that all the stuff you need to make one dish costs more than all your pots, pans, and utensils, combined!!
5) Proceed to get further ripped off by the tro mate on the way back to campus because your Shoprite bags (= dollar signs in his mind) are taking up too much room in the tro. While on the 15 minute walk back to the dorms, lament over trade policies that make everything cheap in the U.S....but expensive here...
6) Place ingredients in the fridge two stories down from your floor, because the fridge on your floor doesn't work. Proceed to wait for the one burner that works in the whole dorm to become available.
7) Run frantically between your room, the fridge two stories away, and the "kitchen" (a.k.a. room with a burner), because all the things you needs to cook are in some combination of these three places....
8) Proceed to burn your sauce and under cook your noodles because the one burner that works is from 1980.
9) Proceed to walk 10 steps to the night market and buy food.
Well, as you can see, cooking here is more of a joke than a reality! Yet, when I realized that I would still spend hours preparing for it, and over 30 bucks buying ingredients for it (when dinner across the street costs around 1), I realized that cooking is definitely one of my hobbies! Just another lesson from Mama Africa 😊
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