AKA: The inside story of why I’ve been on the toilet for the past 30 minutes
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It all started on a sunny Wednesday. I had just finished 30 minutes of straight jogging (as a graduate of the “Couch to 5k” running program,) when all of a sudden I came across a man with a machete… and a large pile of coconuts.
I bought one for 60 pesewas (40 cents), and he immediately started hacking at the coconut while turning it, until it was clean-shaven at the top. On the top, he cut a hole for me to drink out of of it roughly the size of a quarter.
After drinking the juice at a speed similar to Charlie Sheen drinking alcohol, I handed the shell back to him and expected it to be thrown away. But Mr. Coconut Man had a different idea in mind. He grabbed the coconut, and proceeded to chop it into 4 pieces. He carefully scooped out the white, creamy inside with a spoon- as is done to an avocado.
He then handed me the coconut shell once more to eat my fill of the soft, creamy, innards.
It was delicious… yet my quest for refreshment was not fulfilled. I proceeded to order another coconut. It was even better than the first, and as I left the stand, my blissful belly was feeling very satisfied.
I began to jog home, but quickly had to stop due to the condition of my belly gurgling from all the ingested coconut water. I slowed down to a walk, and in a few minutes I came across a woman in a stand selling some type of fried dough for 20 pesewas (13 cents). I couldn’t resist, and bought one. I bit into it expecting sweet breakfast doughnut, but a savory and oily hushpuppy flavored batter awaited me. It was good, but it caught be off guard. I later learned that it was made from black eyed peas, and was called koose (recipe here).
After eating two coconuts and one koose fritter, I slowed my pace even more to an even-slower crawl and ended up cramping regardless. After arriving home, I took a quick shower, and then readied myself to take a nap. Five minutes later, my host-mom came knocking on my door:
“Breakfast is ready!”
A Note on Eating in Ghana:
It’s part of the culture that you should try eating everything, and always do your best to finish your plate, to not waste food. It was wrong of me to eat so much food outside, as breakfast is usually served in the home. Denying the food would’ve been understandable, but since I had only been with my host family for a few days, not the best thing to do since I wanted to bond with them.
“…. Be there in a minute!”
I begrudgingly slumped out of bed. At the table, the most extensive breakfast I’ve had to date awaited me. It was “continental”, according to my host-mom, and included large omelets, white bread, baked beans, and milo (hot chocolate).
Somehow I found room in my stomach to down an entire omelet, two slices of bread, and a fairly sizable amount of beans.
Every story must have an ending. It just so happens that mine wasn’t the happiest of endings. Although I "did my host-momma proud" by finishing the plate, it had its own consequences. I’m not going into details, but you can reread the subtitle of this blog post just to get an idea of the results.