Saturday, November 5, 2011

Family Culture Night: Ghana Edition

Tonight we implemented our new family tradition for the first time - culture night! In the preparation and execution of the meal and evening, I learned a few things:
  •  International markets are ridiculously interesting, uncomfortable (for the culture shock factor), and cheap (yay!) to shop at. Though, for all those reasons and more I've decided that shopping them will be a good habit for me to develop. The Nur International Market on Speedway in Tucson was where we purchased a few ingredients for the meal tonight. We pretty much saw a guy butchering a lamb in the back and giving customers the cuts they wanted as he went. How cool is that? And should we ever need goat meat, we now know where to find it . . . The spices though - they were plentiful and cheap. Never buying garam masala, ground ginger, cumin, or sesame seeds from the regular grocery store, again - or couscous! Only $3 for a huge bag!
  • New recipes can always be hit and miss, but International recipes definitely more so. I will be halfing everything I make in the future for these culture nights. ;)
  • I am clueless about the world and everything in general. Learning about other cultures is awe-inspiring. I think this feeling will only continue to grow, the more of these nights we have as a family.
Tonight though, our evening was Ghana themed.

Maison de l'Afrique - Montréal - Drapeau du Ghana
Image credit: abdallahh on flikr
I prepared 4 different recipes while we listened to Highlife and Hiplife music from this website, and read about Ghana from this one. Here is one of the songs that caught my ear:

But back to the food! I made Groundnut stew with Fufu and Tatale, and Benne cakes for dessert.

Traveling at the dinner table: Groundnut stew with Fufu and Tatale.
I made Groundnut (peanut) stew from this recipe.

My soup, picture above, didn't quite look like the real thing, pictured below . . .

Image Source.

The Fufu recipe I got here. Fufu are basically a sort of dumpling often eaten with Groundnut soup. There are several ways to prepare these. I just went with this recipe because we had corn flour on hand. But, if I did it over again I think I would try them with the Cassava and yams or plantains.

Lincoln sure liked the Fufu though!

I got the recipe for the Tatale from this site. Tatale are golden fried plantain cakes. A snack or side dish.

My Tatale.

Again, see how different mine looked from the recipe? Oh, well first time cooking with plantains and this recipe! They were plenty ripe, but they were still a lot tougher and chewier than I expected. A bit spicy too. I was sweating a bit with the meal tonight as there was red pepper in the Tatale and a red chili in the stew.

Image credit:
This final recipe, may look unimpressive, but it was Squire's and my favorite of the night. The other recipes were interesting, but let's just say I don't forsee them becoming new staples in the Hepworth home anytime soon. ;) The sesame cookies, "Benne Cakes" on the other hand, were delicious. Flat, but delicious.

My melty flat yummy Benne Cakes. :)

Squire enjoying his Benne Cake.
Squire and I also learned the Ghanaian handshake even. It's tricky, but pretty schnazy when you can get the click just right. I think this new trick is a keeper for us.

As part of the evening, we shared stories and experiences we had had with people from Ghana. Here were a couple that we recounted:

I worked at Costco with a woman named Barbara who was from Ghana. She spoke "Ga" one of the many many languages of Ghana. I loved to talk with Barbara about her culture and customs and she with me (at least I thought so!) :) She had never heard of a baby shower before and asked me to explain the event to her when I was pregnant with Lincoln and still working. She thought the idea of such a party was hilarious. So, I asked her what her customs were when a new baby was coming. She informed me that people in Ghana practice something called, "Adorin'" (I just love that - I makes me think of this Christmas carol) where after the baby is born everyone brings gifts and food to the new mother's home for the baby and the baby's family.

Squire had an investigator on his mission in Maryland who was from Ghana named "Nana". The man had another friend from Ghana who he also called "Nana." Squire thought, "Geez! Is everyone in Ghana named Nana?!" He discovered on the day the investigator was getting baptized, that the man's name was in fact something very different. Tonight everything came full circle as he finally learned that "Nah-nah" is a title of respect used for elderly or people of a higher rank. 

With the lingering aroma of peanut butter and sesame seeds in my home, I write this post for you all - glad to have learned a few new things about a foreign culture, to have gotten out of my comfort zone a bit, and above all - excited for what next month's culture night will bring! :)

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