Friday, December 18, 2015

2 more Ghana Cookbook sightings

It's fun and exciting to see our child going off on its own into the world and making history in a modest way this holiday season. Here are a couple more sightings:

South African Michael Dewsnap, Chef at the Golden Tulip Restaurant in Accra, Ghana, holding his copy:

And Surama King, originally from Minas Gerais in Brazil (I've written previously about some of the links between Brazilian and West African cuisines) and currently married to a Ghanaian.

It's truly thrilling to receive notes from folks as you receive copies. Many of you have sent emails or posted on facebook, but there's no substitute for seeing your faces. Truly this book is getting noticed, not by any big advertising campaign, or media hype, but ordinary people like us, letting the world know about Ghana's world class cuisine one by one!

I'm also happy to announce that The Ghana Cookbook has already (in less than 2 months) had to go into its second printing. Yay! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On finding West African ingredients

It's exciting to see North Americans (and Europeans) embracing West African food! Unfortunately, many of us do not live in large urban areas where we can easily locate some of the unfamiliar ingredients. Last week I made a trip to our local international market here in State College, Pennsylvania, for a spontaneous, quick runthrough of some items locally available. I was rushing, and missed many things (like cream of palm fruit aka palm butter) in the store and also cannot believe some of the words that came out of my mouth, such as saying "coconut paste" when I meant "groundnut (peanut) paste," and holding some Ga kenkey and saying it is fermented corn dough rather than that it is made from steamed fermented corn dough (with a bit of cassava dough, too). I spoke about "dried fish powder" when it would have been better to say "dried flaked fish/shrimp."

Still, I hope you find it helpful, especially if you are exploring recipes from The Ghana Cookbook.

And remember, too, that as North American tastes are changing, it is getting easier and easier to find many of these ingredients in local supermarkets, from millet flour to fresh coconut to red palm oil to taro (Ghanaians call it "cocoyam") to plantains or fresh papaya. I find many of them in our local Wegman's, Giant, Trader Joe's, Weis, or even Wal-Mart.
(Hint: there's a recipe in the book that calls for smoked turkey, which is only available around here at Christmas, so this time of year might be a good time to try it out!)

Note: Thank you to students Nick Weis and Jessica Stefanowiz, both from Happy Valley Communications for running video and helping set up, respectively, and for owner Jin Zhou for allowing us to film in The International Market

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Barbara Baeta busy in Accra

News Flash!  I'm pleased and excited to announce that the first official copies of The Ghana Cookbook have landed on Ghana's soil! Here Barbara Baëta shows one off. She is busily making arrangements for its African launch in Ghana at Flair in January.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Update on The Ghana Cookbook Saga

Since our book was released in November, it's been a busy few weeks. As I mentioned then in an article on the TED Fellows channel of my love affair with Ghana and its food has deep roots. 

Sunday, Dec. 6,   an article by Anne Quinn Corr appeared in our local paper, The Centre Daily Times, about The Ghana Cookbook, filling in some background and why I'm so passionate about celebrating Ghana's cuisine and culture. I was thrilled to see the article noticed by the U.S. Embassy in Ghana, and also Mission Economique des Pays-Bas en Côte d'Ivoire. Going global, here! 

That was followed in the afternoon by an event at our local independent bookstore, Webster's Bookstore and Cafe.

It was fun to have volunteers from the packed house try their hand at peeling a green plantain and slicing strips, or cracking open a coconut, and we even had owner Elaine demonstrate (as instructed) how to make atwemo/atsomo (aka "twisted cakes"), while folks were sipping ginger beer or hibiscus iced tea (bissap/zobo/sobolo) or lemongrass tea, or snacking on akara (black-eyed pea fritters) with a peanut pumpkin dipping sauce/stew, or trying out a red bean stew with smoked fish, and coconut rice, or Ghana's yummy cassava one-pot dish called "gari foto"(aka "gari jollof"). I was somewhat surprised how many people showed up because of the gluten-free aspect of Ghana's cuisine.

Whew! It was a ton of work, but the audience was super enthusiastic. I would have been lost without the help my Happy Valley Communications team plating and handing out food and drinks, helping people discover their "day names," and still finding time to tweet during the event (@ghanacookbook). Once again, they were great! Also,  the staff at Webster's was wonderful in providing help with setting up and taking down.
In January I head to Accra, where Barbara Baëta and I will properly launch the book in Ghana at Flair Catering. We're having trouble keeping the guest list trimmed to a manageable size (Which Barbara says is 500). 

So much fun after so much work!

I also heard today from the publisher at Hippocrene Books that they may soon have to reprint the book as the first printing appears to be selling out! Great news.
Sincere thanks to each of you who has been helping to spread the news via word-of-mouth, twitter, and other social media. I look forward to hearing how you find the recipes.

(P.S. Please don't put off getting your holiday copies.)