Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ghanaian Thanksgiving

While I’ve spent Thanksgiving away from family in past years (some years in grad school in Colorado), this is the first time that I’ve spent Thanksgiving on another continent.  As might be expected, American Thanksgiving is not celebrated by the Ghanaians or any of my European colleagues.  But since I’m not living with any Brits (who might still be sore about us Americans making our own country a couple centuries ago), I felt completely comfortable asking Lisa if we could have turkey for dinner—assuming that they have turkeys here in Ghana.  She said that she would get a live turkey but I told it wasn’t necessary.

Lisa didn’t listen.  I wasn’t around to see it, but Lisa brought home a live turkey.  Its legs were tied so it couldn’t run away, but it was most definitely alive, as you can see in the picture of Lisa holding it in the front door of the house.  I was fortunate to also miss the slaughtering of the turkey.  I’m squeamish enough about eating animals that still resemble what they were like when they were alive (Andre probably remembers having to pull the heads off prawns before I would eat them on our European trip after college).  I doubt I could have eaten dinner if I had met the turkey before dinner (for the Douglas Adams fans out there, I guess I wouldn’t dine at The Restaurant at the End of the Universe).

Ghanaian turkey is served with pepe sauce, a spicy mixture of ginger, garlic, tomato and onion.  Fried yams are the typical side dish—in this case, sliced and fried like French fried potatoes.  We had a nice salad to complete the meal.  The finished product is here in this picture, complimented by a South African red wine.   No pumpkin pie for dessert, but the watermelon and pineapple were fresh and tasty.  Since my colleagues are all European, this was their first (and possibly last) Thanksgiving dinner.  They very much seemed to enjoy the meal, even if it’s a holiday that only means something to me.  (A big thanks to Markus for providing the photos for this post.)

I make up for missing the Thanksgiving holiday by getting a uniquely Ghanaian holiday, Farmers’ Day on December 3rd.  We’ll be taking a trip to the north to Tamale and Mole National Park for the long weekend.  Since it’s the end of the rainy season, I’m not sure how many elephants we’ll see in the park, but I’m sure it will still be interesting.    Saturday night we head to Tamale for a day for our chance to see a bit of the Muslim north.

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