EatingAccra Food Walking Tour Explores The Best of Local Cuisine in JamesTown Accra.
What an incredibly fun time it was on Saturday! The food walking tour through Jamestown British Accra which I organised for my food blog and cooking class community was all kinds of liveliness with huge toppings of learning about the Ga food culture. Of course and naturally we ate our way from one stop to the other.
I started the food crawl/walk to share more with the Ghanaian & expat community on the less talked about 100yr-old family-based food businesses in Jamestown which have thrived over the years using timeless traditional cooking techniques. These businesses mostly owned and operated by Ga women have sustained their family over the years to provide a better future for their children most of whom have completed their Bachelors & Masters degrees. I also saw it as crucial for the younger millennial generation to connect with the best of our food roots which if not preserved can be lost to a world of fried rice and chicken, pizza and overwhelming surge of roadside noodles. I also have a responsibility to tell my hometown's food stories because it's an extension of who I am, it shows my ethnicity and tells of my history. I just can't escape from Ga Kenkey, Domedo, Kpokpoi, Pork feet, Shito - they are in my blood. And one last thing, food tourism in Ghana is a prime opportunity for the country to grow it's tourism revenue.
Our first stop was at One-in-town bakery where the group (led by me as their food tour guide) got an unadulterated first-taste experience of fresh clay oven-baked Baa Mli Blodoo ( bread baked on waakye leaves). Bread so fresh, it emits steam when torn apart. One of the in-house trained bakers- Kweku Danquah - explained the baking process from the pre-heating of the oven to the dough-making, proving of the dough and finally the baking stage. That bread went along with us for the rest of the crawl 🤣.
We continued onwards passing by the Salaga Market which has been relocated next to the Jamestown Police Barracks. Recently, it struck me how I have been saying ' Slahaa' all my life when the original word is actually Salaga 🙈 but then again that's what every Ga person I know has been saying it and nobody corrected anyone 🤷🏽♀️ 😂. Ga slangs for you.
We soon reached GAS, the most popular Ga Kenkey production house in Jamestown. Ghanaians living as far as Adentan drive all the way to Jamestown to buy this Kenkey. For very good reason too. The Ga Kenkey has the perfect texture. What is the perfect texture for Ga Kenkey? Original and 'correct' Ga Kenkey when grasped with the fingers and deftly moulded between the fingers, isn't flaky or too mushy. It is perfectly pliable and obedient to your fingers. The Kenkey dough respects your fingers and comes together for the next stage of being dipped into shito. Anything else is fake Ga Kenkey. 😖Sorry I lost myself there for a moment.
Aha..so we finally arrived at GAS ( the name was given to the kenkey house due to the heavy use of LPG for cooking.) Auntie Aakweley was kind enough to share her 60+ years experience of Ga Kenkey moulding and cooking skills acquired and handed down to her by her 89 year old mother who we were grateful & honoured to meet as well. This places the business longevity around a hundred plus years.
Ga Kenkey is made from fermented milled corn which is steamed over a period of hours depending on the quantity being cooked. But did you know that Aflata is mixed in with the fermented milled corn dough before being moulded into the corn husks? Even I didn't know that. Aflata is slightly boiled corn dough which takes on a similar texture to Banku, like Amma Aboagye said, ' Banku-ish'.
Sadly, some individuals in the city have been mixing cassava dough with corn during the cooking process which is an abomination to the Ga gods if you ask me 🙃.
We spent more time at the Ga Kenkey house and queued up to buy our take-away Kenkey for later. The Ga Kenkey was GHC1.50 for one ball and came with a side of ocean-to-plate crispy fried fish. With the Jamestown fishing town not too far off, the fish was gloriously crunchy with slight hints of natural sea salt. That's what I love about locally fried fish in these parts; very simple salt flavouring with no additives or preservatives. My favourite part of this fish is the tail..by the way.
We then walked only two minutes away to a Nm3daaroadside local brewery owned by Auntie Adukwei who used to be a Ga Kenkey producer but due to the physical nature of the work had to quit to make the popular local corn-based drink. We took samples and we somehow found gallons to buy in bulk. Some of the tour participants had iced blocks with them by pure magic 🤪.
The oven-baked Domedo roastery also not far off was very insightful for the group to see how pork is roasted in the clay oven.
We took a mini-break from the late morning sun to gorge on Domedo and chilled local pilsners beneath the welcoming shade of a nearby drinking spot canopy.
The breeze from the ocean, the spicy Domedo, coupled with friendly banter, laughter and selfies revived the group.
Local sweet snacks were on hand for the sweet-tooth local tourists
We took a detour through the Jamestown seaside where wooden shack clusters dots the sandy area as fishermen and fish vendors haggled over prices and loaded taxis with the catch of the day.
Fishermen mended their nets beneath the sweltering sun as teenage boys and young adult men hauled in nets from boats below to a high-rise concrete fishing dock. They sang slightly obscure Ga songs as their muscles stretched and pulled in the weighty nets. Some of the tour members took part in the hauling to get a true hands-on immersive experience.
Fried octopus is a delicacy and like most delicacies-expensive- but oh so good! We interacted with a seafood street vendor near the Ga Mantse palace to learn the names of some crab and crustacean species which I have known since I was a swaddling bundle. Aryirada and Kutushii are like my top favourite seafood delicacies after Shialoo ( a specie of mussels
The group tried out the octopus and the crab species and much to their delight was fresh and tasty but takes some skill to get through to the crab meat.
Since we were in the Brazil House vicinity we decided to go check out the Shika Shika art auction. Sadly it wasn't yet open but we didn't waste an opportunity to take a quick photo with wall murals. You should have seen the guys in the group dance jama with a group of beer drinkers at a drinking spot! Hilarious!
The afternoon sun soon made us thirsty and what else if not fresh coconuts to swill down.
Our final destination was at WATO, a famous drinking bar back in the 70's. It was simply the Bloom Bar of that era due to the live band sessions held in the afternoons. That's where we settled to enjoy our 'spoils'. The Ga Kenkey was the perfect texture & smoothness, the shito was insanely good and what we call ' shito loo' ! The octopus and the fried fish with ayirada simply cemented the fact that this is food for real foodians! You have to appreciate food when it's this good. I mean, how can you look at this food and not salivate ?
What an awesome day! What a learning experience! What a yummy trip! We were so relaxed on the rooftop/corridor as we ate, chatted and people-watched from above. A splendid food walking tour! Osayy Ghana!
Watch the video highlights here: