The food in Ghana is nothing like the food at home. It is not processed and distributed through grocery stores from huge farms like we are used to. Ghanains don’t have the variety we do either, they eat what is in season and there is no concept of “junk” food and “healthy” food. This is something I love about Ghana, how the people are so much more in tune with nature and where their food comes from than we are. In Ghana you would not get chicken and yam, you would get yam and chicken. The starch always comes first and many people leave out the protein all together. We have eaten a ton of rice balls and ground nut soup, fufu, plantains, yam chips, sweet bread, red peppers, boiled boned chicken, and pineapples. All of these meals contain the same staple ingredients: starch (rice, plantains,yam, bread), bean, red peppers, palm oil, and ground nut. The fruit I have had here has been by far the best fruit I have ever had. The bananas are smaller and have much more flavor and the pineapples are much more juicy and sweet. I could eat these fruits forever! It has made me realize how much flavor we lose in the chemically ripened and shipped fruit that we eat at home.
One of my favorite things to do here is go to the market. The market here is not for people who don’t like crowds and over-stimulation. There is so much going on and so many venders crammed together that it becomes a winding labyrinth that is easy to get lost in. Melissa has joked about how awesome a big town market would be to do an amazing race in because the scavenger hunt would be so hard. The market is full of kids, goats, and vendors selling everything from food to light bulbs. In the market, just like everywhere in Ghana, we stand out as the only white people. Most of the kids have never seen a white person before and the adults if any have seen very few. People love to stare, and the kids run up to us shouting “Obroni!”
In Ghana each person has a name associated with the day they were born. Because I am a girl and was born on a Saturday my name is Ama and because I am the eldest twin my other name is Bennie (Ethan is Kakra wich means younger twin). Since there are only seven days a week the market women shout to you random names and when you yell “Ama!” they all go “Eyyy! Ama!”. They are all so fun and enthusiastic and, surprisingly, they don’t try to force you to buy even though they associate white skin with money. The streets of the market are crowded with vendors crammed along the sides, women and men walking with ridiculous loads on their heads, and boys weaving carts of goods through the goats and people. You always have to be on your toes as cars and people will give you a warning shout or honk but that does not mean they will move for you (Jordan almost got hit by a car).
What I did not expect was the amount of fish sold here. It smells bad and looks unsanitary as people are holding trays of entire fish out in the hot sun. My favorite part of the market and the reason we go there is the fabric. I LOVE Ghanaian clothes. The energetic and crowded market is full of beautiful tapestries and fabrics. In Ghana you buy fabric in yards and then make your clothes from that. Two yards make a dress and they usually go for 5 cedis a yard. Once people choose and buy fabric, people would either make their own clothes or do as we did and call the local tailor to come a measure us. I can’t wait to get my dress back!
In the evening, all of the vendors pack up their goods and take them home or put them back in the shop and lock it back up like a storage container. The amount of work to unload and reload the goods in many of these shops takes entire families hours and the vendors have to do it twice a day. Most of the street vendors (the people without set booths) are children and they often talk to us in their scattered English about where we are from and ask us to buy the water pouches or yam chips they are selling on their heads (the yam chips are so good). What I have learned is that Ghanaian markets are great but exhausting and seeing where people go to buy and barter has taught me a great deal about the culture.