Ever since being back in the US, some of the typical American food I eat and cook on a regular basis has been a turnoff for me. It tastes fine the first time I eat it, but I have no desire to eat it a second time.
Admittedly, I miss the Ghanaian dishes and fresh produce typical of a tropical country. I miss the groundnut soup (peanut butter based soup eaten with rice), red-red (black-eyed peas in a red sauce over fried plantains), light soup (red broth soup equivalent in Ghanaian culture to our chicken noodle soup). All of these dishes are spicy, something I adjusted to and grew to enjoy. I miss the street food and snacks that were so easy to get and yet so yummy tasting, like grilled plantains, kelewele (spicy fried plantains), groundnut cakes (similar to peanut brittle), and meat kebabs coated in a red spice. Mmm. Alan and I had a favorite little restaurant only blocks from where we lived. They made the best rotisserie chicken and fried rice. I enjoyed cooking new dishes in our apartment and having to be creative because of the limited and unique ingredients I had to work with.
I’ve tried making groundnut soup since returning to the US. It was close, although not quite right. We don’t exactly have all the same ingredients on hand here that were used there. I’ve never seen the peppers they use to spice up the food except in Ghana. However, my groundnut soup was close enough that I’ll make it again. Alan’s favorite dish is red-red, which I haven’t attempted to make yet. One key ingredient is red palm oil, which I’ve never seen in an American grocery store.
Yesterday, while out driving near Pine Hills, an Orlando neighborhood, I spotted something that caught my eye—an African grocery store! I finished my errands for the day and backtracked to find this store. I excitedly got out of the car and went inside, confident I’d find that one elusive ingredient. Sure enough, AFIPA African Market carries red palm oil. To my complete surprise and pleasure, it is owned and operated by a Ghanaian woman and her son. She asked if I know any of the local language, and I responded “Ca cra, ca cra,” meaning a little bit or more literally, “small, small”. She was very kind, even offering for me to call her at the store for Ghanaian food recipes. This week I look forward to eating red-red, another of my favorite Ghanaian dishes.