Yesterday, Fran and I headed out to the University of Ghana at Legon to meet with some of the faculty members from the food science department. First task was to meet Rose Omari over breakfast to talk about her work, talk about Fran's work, and get closer to the bottom of the issue of national pride regarding food, the penetration of Western foods and Asian foods, and the disappearance of more traditional recipes in daily Ghanaian life. The conversation was recorded on video, but that won't be making an appearance up on this blog.
Next stop was the department of food science and nutrition. While we were there, we were shown a new product that the department has been developing and is in the final stages leading up to public sales. If you've never had Ice Kenkey before, I apologize now because I have no idea how to describe it. It's not comparable to anything in the typical American diet, it's a fermented corn meal drink made with milk, and from what everyone else is saying, it's wildly popular around here. The problem, according to the food sci department, is that the Ice Kenkey available now is stuff made at home, it's not always safe to drink, it's got a really short shelf life, and it falls out of suspension if it's not mixed frequently or drunk right away. By making a bottled variation, the hope is that this is a safer, more shelf-stable, and stays suspended without constant shaking (it's a really thick drink, more like bottled pudding than a bottled drink).
I'll come right out and say it, I have no taste for Ice Kenkey. Regular kenkey is a fermented corn dough, and I think that might be good, but just as garlic ice cream (garlic festival 2005) was not bad necessarily but simply not right, Ice Kenkey was such a surprise that I really didn't know how to react.
After that, we met with Esther Sakyi-Dawson, a professor in the food science department, who had some really interesting things to say about cassava, and helped to answer some of the questions Fran and I had.
Following that meeting, there was lunch, which for me was groundnut soup and rice balls, and for Fran was some other soup that I didn't catch the name of, but was made with greens and served with corn dough balls. The groundnut soup came with either fish or meat, but when I asked for meat the server asked me of goat would be ok. Verdict: goat was pretty tasty.