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“ We Eat First With Our Eyes”: On Ghanaian Cuisine

Fran Osseo-Asare


The cuisine of the West African nation of Ghana can be considered a form of “culinary jazz” whose global contributions are gradually being recognized. At the same time, it remains underrepresented in culinary literature. The article introduces and provides a context for the cooking and culture of Ghana. Major ingredients, cooking equipment, preparation techniques, meal presentation and meal etiquette are described. Some classic combinations of dishes are presented (e.g., soup and fufu; kenkey, fried fish, and the pepper sauce known as shito). The African oil palm, Elaeis guineesis, is discussed extensively, including its history, background and uses, as well as processing techniques for extracting the oil and pulp, nutritional content and misconceptions, and preparation of palm-nut soup.

Other topics include: general structure and composition of meals, eating patterns, cultural values (such as hospitality, humor in the face of adversity, and the appropriate use of power), and the expression of these values through proverbs, symbols, and the exchange and sharing of food. Included are discussions of the Ga thanksgiving festival of Homowo (“hoot at hunger’) and the Ga and Akan ritual dish oto, made from eggs, yam, and palm oil.


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