Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obama in Ghana: Skip the Okra Soup

In 2002 I went to Ghana on business for a week. Very warm, friendly people. (Though I did see a lot of Osama Bin Laden t-shirts for sale.) On my last day there, I asked my hosts if we could go to a restaurant that served ghanaian food. They happily obliged and off we went to an outdoor place very near the US embassy in the capital city, Accra. Once we were seated and given menus, my hosts said, tantalizingly, that they were hesitant to order the okra soup with banku (pictured above), because it was very spicy and tended to make non-Ghanaians "sick." Nonsense, I said, that sounds great. Let' get it.
So, after their worried glances turned into knowing smiles, we did. And I ate an entire bowl enthusiastically, to their bemusement. It was fantastic, and went great with the local "Star" beer on a hot afternoon. Just two hours or so later, though, I was sicker than I'd ever been before. (I'm reminded of an old elementary school jingle, "When you're standing on a ladder and you hear something splatter....." Though in this case perhaps it would more fittingly have been, "When your walking through Accra and you feel something fall....")

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