The Ghana Files: Letting go of my refrigerated ways.

Before I even arrived in Ghana, I knew there would be so much for me to learn.

It really hit me just how much there is to learn last night, as I was attempting to release delicious pineapple guts from their spiky exterior without hurting myself or wasting any of the edible parts. Back home, I buy my pineapples pre-cut. Not to mention, a high tech Japanese machine cooks my rice, and the nice people at the laundromat wash my undies for me. So now not only do I need to learn things that are distinctly Ghanaian, but I also have to learn basic things like how to properly cut a pineapple.

Since my arrival, the refrigerator in my kitchen has not been working. I have spoken to my supervisor about this, and I was informed that it probably wouldn’t be fixed for a long time… if at all. As an American, I am very attached to my refrigerated ways. My German fiancé and I have had many drawn out arguments over whether or not to refrigerate eggs and unopened milk. I have scrunched my nose at sandwiches sitting out on a sunny Berlin afternoon. Over time I have learned that many cultures are not as attached to refrigeration as we Americans are. My guess is that the Ghanaians are among them.

My roommate, however, is a treasure-trove of tricks to preserve food without refrigeration. She showed me a few little tricks, like airing your vegetables out on the windowsill so they last a little longer, and putting opened cans of condensed milk in a bowl of cold water to keep it cool through the day.

One afternoon, we were given some fish curry and some rice by the school’s dining hall. Neither of us were hungry, so we did not consume it that evening. The next afternoon I went to give the curry a “sniff test” and I noticed that it was warm, as if it had just been cooked. My roommate had been coming out periodically to re-heat the curry, keeping it warm until we were going to eat it the next day. Brilliant! I ate fish after it had gone unrefrigerated for at least 12 hours… and I survived to tell the tale.

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