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Spice or Rice

The food in Ghana is delicious but very spicy. Almost all food has some form of spice on the plate or mixed in the ingredients. The main dish that every Ghanaian restaurant serves is joliff rice and some form of meat; either fish or chicken. The local food that I enjoyed the most is called fufu. It consists of a bowl of soup with a ball of dough in the middle. The dough is very soft and sometimes sweet. The soup is very spicy and contains chicken or fish. It seems that every restaurant has rice and chicken. With this being said, it seems like Ghanaians never get tired of the same meal. Some of my coworkers would eat this same meal every day and look at me like I was crazy for trying to switch it up.

One of my coworkers treated me as a younger brother, so she made it her mission to show me a variety of foods while in Ghana. I was able to try all of the local foods at a variety of restaurants.  The dishes contained rice, meat, noodles, and sauces I had never tried before. Ghanaians love their food, so they make sure to finish their plate and will gladly eat the leftovers from their peer’s plate. My coworkers would give me a hard time because sometimes I wouldn’t finish all of my food and they would say I’m too skinny and need to eat more.

Eating utensils are hardly used and Ghanaians primarily eat with their hands. I have coworkers that eat beans, soup and rice with their fingers. I would receive weird looks when I used a fork to eat my rice or a spoon to eat my soup. They weren’t making fun of me, they just could tell that I wasn’t from Ghana and found it amusing to watch me eat. Before I came to Ghana, I had never seen anyone scoop soup from their bowl with 3 fingers and drink it. But my coworkers would use these techniques and still finish their plate faster than I would.

I found it amusing how different the food and eating routines are between Ghana and Oregon. Once someone at a table receives food in America, they start eating right away, but in Ghana you must wait until everyone is served and ready to eat. This may be an unspoken etiquette in America, but in Ghana they take it so seriously. If they want you to join them to eat, they say “You’re invited.” It could be one bite left and they will invite you to join them. I have joined many of my coworkers during their meals, and sometimes I enjoy the food while other times I regret it because of the spice.

I have never had spicier food in my entire life. I’ve had meals where I’ve begun to sweat, cry and search for water immediately. I love the seasoning and flavor, but if I could change one thing about the food, it would be the spice level. I’m all for some Tobasco or peppers on occasion, but not on every meal. I asked the locals why the food was so spicy and they informed me that it’s because there is a large amount of ginger placed in each recipe. Since it’s my last week here, I’m going to man up and eat a lot of Ghanaian food because I’m sure I’ll miss the flavor and spice when I return home.