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Mmmm… Kelewele…

Lydia Polgreen, writing about Ghanaian food in the New York Times, gets it RIGHT. Great food is one of the main reasons to come to Accra. And the way to eat in Ghana is not to go to restaurants, but to wander from stall to stall on the sidewalks, eating plantain, kebab, boiled eggs and yam chips. I’d add fresh pineapple and coconuts to her list of neccesary culinary experiences, but I suppose those aren’t uniquely Ghanaian. And I love the advice she gets from a fellow chop bar customer on choosing the right stall to shop at: “”You have to look at the whole person,” he said. “First, is her hair braided in neat rows, or does it go every which way? If it is neat, you are safe.”‘

Read any guide to travel in Africa and you’ll get caution after caution about eating street food. Follow this advice and you’ll never get beyond the buffets in the five star hotels. My experience eating my way around the world? I’ve gotten sick from five star meals many more times than I’ve gotten sick from street food. This doesn’t mean one should be stupid – eating meat that’s got flies crawling on it, or fresh veggies that have been washed in dirty water is dumb, dumb, dumb. But coming to Ghana and not eating kelewele (fried plantain with ginger and hot pepper) may well be dumber.

(The accompanying photo series is great, too. Way to go, NYT.)

4 thoughts on “Mmmm… Kelewele…”

  1. You have my mouth watering already, Ethan. My mom says to add an additional test – how does she clean her hands: by wiping it in a clean bowl of clear water or a dirty linen, or her wrap-around cloth? The last two are no nos, she says.

  2. well the way ghanaian foods are portrayed by outsiders,i mean,foreigners are in a way good.this is because they seems to like the way our meals look and taste differently from other foods they have tasted.ghanaian delicacies like kelewele and the likes leave much to be sais on the minds of the tourist.i once had a friend who came from the USA for a semester program and when she got back to her home country the first thing she wrote to me was that she missed the ghanaian food and weather,that is, the hot blazing sun.hope you always enjoy our meals.

  3. chiming in – I saw that article and thought of you, too, E! you introduced me to the wonders of ghanaian cuisine, and the very important difference between red-red and green-green.
    Last year while in Thailand I got the sickest I’ve ever been from “street” food, eating a seemingly innocuous cup o’noodles (i think my all-night retching could be attributed to the not-quite-boiled water), but a few days later went back to eating whatever looked good (and safe) on the street. and how else would I have learned about coconut milk-soaked black rice in banana leaves? mmm….

  4. This Times article was a delight, bringing the memories right back to my taste buds! Next time you’re in Accra, don’t miss togbe, the Ghanian version of a doughnut hole. And the mentioned plantain fritters are not to be missed, with the plantains mashed into a batter and fried in palm oil like thick pancakes. Man, I’m hungry now.

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