How to cook (while a resident on campus) in Ghana

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Africa » Ghana » Greater Accra » Legon
October 9th 2009
Published: October 9th 2009
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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 😊


16th October 2009

did you ever read that book i gave you? the poisonwood bible by barbara Kingsolver? on second thought i might have kept it because i knew i wouldn expect to get it back... anyways its this family of southern baptists who enter the then "congo" around 1955 and experience the culture shock its amazing i read it every year lol.... its amazing what you are experiencing and i honestly miss you every day!!! Im so proud of you and i can wait to hear whats next
12th December 2009

eat out
Oh my God! Just eat out for heaven sakes. You can resume your hobbies when you return home. Great story though, thanks for the levity. Dianne
12th December 2009

Poisonwood Bible
That is such a great book. If you can get a copy this would definately be a good time to read it
23rd March 2010

How to cook (while a resident on campus) in Ghana
You poor thing! Now I understand why the foreign students subject themselves to the strange rituals of buying from, or eating at Night Market, open air restaurants, and vendors. It is dirt Cheap. And Shopright is definitely NOT where most locals buy their groceries. To many items there are imported, and cost more than in the U.S. or source countries. With no decent institutionally-approved, 'international'-standard dining facilities affordable to international students, the managers of ISH need to invest in fully-equipped kitchens on each floor. After all for all the money they collect from foreign students, they should have international student standards. It is a real shame. I keep wondering how many foreign students get sick from the food at the Night Market, just from not being accustomed to these foods. I do buy fruits and select items from the market myself, but hesitate at the items that are not well-protected from flies, or have doubtful origins.

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