Ghana Blog: Banku Struggles

July 10th, 2018

After shadowing in the nutrition ward at the Princess Marie Louise (PML) Children’s Hospital and making rounds in other areas of the hospital, I headed to the hospital’s kitchen to learn how to make formula. It turned out that they were not making the formula that day but luckily, I was still able to shadow and participate in the kitchen. Unlike the hospitals in the United States, everything was made from scratch, the aroma was absolutely amazing. A sidewall of the kitchen was lined with large cauldron like pots filled with foods such as yams, soups, chicken, and banku. After I had a quick tour of the kitchen, I met all of the aunties (the women that keep the kitchen running). Once we were acquainted, Lina, another student from a different program, and I chopped a few yams. Our next task was to stir the impossible, banku. The auntie that showed us how to stir the banku, made it look like she was whipping air; however, when it was our turn to give it a try it really showed our lack of upper body strength. I imagined, stirring the pot of banku was like trying to stir a pot of drying cement. The auntie helping us was having fun watching our attempt to stir. As pathetic as we looked trying to stir the banku, the auntie said I actually did a better job at stirring compared to the other student, but I don’t know how she could tell since we both could barely move the stirring utensil through the mixture. Either way, I will definitely take the complement. I don’t know how somebody could do that on a daily basis; on the other hand, you would never have to workout again. Later in the kitchen I was able to actually try the banku that I had “stirred” along with some fried fish. It was delicious; it was the best banku I have had during my time in Ghana. Everyone in the kitchen got a kick out of me liking banku and being able to eat it properly. However, I was not able to handle the spice of the homemade green chili sauce but luckily nobody noticed. I had an incredible time getting to meet everyone in the kitchen and learning the ropes. Fortunately, the next day I was also able to learn how to make F75 formula, a particular mixture of hot water, milk, sugar, and oil and was able to try my favorite Ghanaian food, fufu. The staff once got a kick out of me liking yet another Ghanaian food and being able to eat it properly; it was the talk of the kitchen. My two days in the kitchen were truly a memorable experience.

-Rebecah Brooke Horowitz-

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