Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 14 & 15 - Homemade cookies and Ghanaian restaurants

So Andrew and I have been craving something sweet. One thing that we have noticed over here is that the Ghanaians are not accustomed to eating food that is super sweet. I brought over a hand crank snow cone machine with me and we made some snow cones for some of the staff that work here in our office. Most of them indicated that it was way too sweet. I ask myself, how can you ever go wrong with pina colada snow cones? Anyways, Andrew and I decided to make some cookies. It ended up being more of a chore than we originally imagined. Andrew found a recipe for oatmeal cookies online, but then the real work began. As there are no grocery stores here in Koforidua, it was necessary to venture out into the local market and see what ingredients we could find and what we would need to improvise.

Flour, check. Eggs, check. One thing that readers may be interested in knowing is that it seems that in most places outside of the US, eggs are not kept refrigerated. At least that was the case in South America. Here is Ghana it is no different. They just keep them outside. Sugar, check. We found sugar, but had to get it in the market. They sell it by the cup. About 1 1/2 cups of sugar runs about 1 Ghana cedi (or about $.70 USD). Not sure how that compares to sugar in the states, as how many times do you purchase sugar by the cup. Margarine, check. It is interesting to buy margarine over here. You can buy it in small containers. You can buy it in plastic envelopes. You can purchase it in huge
plastic tubs. Regardless of how you purchase it, my guess is that is is probably not good for you. Oh well, sacrifice for the cookies. Baking powder, check. Salt, check. Vanilla, check. Chocolate what is that? It seems that our local Kof-town residents haven't fully accepted the finer things of life. After checking out the entire market as well going to all of the larger mom and pop stores, we weren't able to find any chocolate chips. We really weren't able to find any chocolate bars either. We finally found some very very small little chocolate bars, and we got two of those just in case. After throwing all of the ingredients together, then came the real fun. Trying to figure out how to moderate the temperature in the oven was quite the feat. This is a small gas stove, that doesn't really have much of a temperature control. You can either light the light of the oven, or the bottom of the oven, but not both. To make things even more interesting, you have to be careful when shutting the oven door, or it will blow out the flames. Needless to say, despite all of the trials that we had making these, they turned out great. It's safe to assume that this will not be our last time making cookies.

So tonight (tuesday evening) we went out to dinner with Debi and Dave. We had an experience that mirrors one that I have experience several times here in Ghana. So I think that this warrants a post. Imagine yourself going out to a nice restaurant. You get seated, the waitress brings you the menu. After pouring over the menu, you find the menu item that is calling your name. As the waitress comes to take the order, you proudly say "I will have the XXXXX" knowing that it is just the item for you. Imagine to your dismay when the waitress responds, "I'm sorry, we don't have that." Now picture that it happens for three or four items that you ask for. Welcome to restaurants in Ghana, which the menu is only an indication of what the restaurant may have served at one time, but is not indication of what is actually available. Why they don't update their menus, no one knows. But eater beware. Make sure that you have three or four choice in mind when placing your order because if you get your mind set on one item, there is a high probability that you may be disappointed. Sure you may be saying, but maybe they just ran out of the food. I'll give it to you that it is ok when they run out of items like "gizzard skewers", but when you ask for three or four different chicken dishes and they "don't have any" it can be a little bothersome. Its not always bad, however. Last night (Monday) Andrew and I went out to eat at the Capitol View hotel. My first meal choice wasn't available. So I opted for the Chicken American (pictured to the left). It was great. The first full chicken breast that I have seen in Ghana, wrapped in bacon!!!!!

In addition, plan on spending at least two hours, if not more. In some of the restaurants, they don't carry a lot of food on hand. Therefore, once you place your order, they go out and purchase the items that are needed for your meal.


Melissa said...

hey! looks like you are having some very memorable experiences. will you make us some of those cookies when you get home?

katie king said...

The cookies look good! I agree that we will have to make those when you get home. Thanks for posting :)