My love affair with food and cooking began seriously when I gave up work to become a full-time mum to my two (now strapping) sons and wife to my Devonshire born and bred husband. Expanding his horizons beyond delicious, but numerous Cornish Pasties and Devon Dumplings was my challenge. Rice was simply not on his menu! Now my Jollof Rice is top of his favourites. Garlic and chilli, once complete no-nos, now often appear on his shopping list.
Food influences include a year as an AFS exchange student in America, European travel and too many international friendships to count, some as far back as primary school. This exposure to diverse cultures, flavours, foods and cooking styles is a primary colour on my palate. I have so many good friends to thank.
Of course the single biggest contribution is my mum’s almost encyclopaedic knowledge of West African cooking – a seemingly endless and effortless production of fabulous food with a flavour all its own.
Ghana’s varied colonial past provided a rich tapestry of influences: Portuguese, Dutch and British amongst them. All had a hand in shaping our cuisine and diet, from dried cod, cheese, cakes and puddings to staples like cassava and coconut (both surprisingly introduced through trade). In Takoradi, the Manchester Bakery’s sausage rolls and the Atlantic Hotel’s apple pies still evoke vivid childhood memories.
I want to bring the fun factor to cooking and dispel any fears you may have when attempting African dishes. With the extraordinary range of ingredients available in the supermarkets, now is the perfect time to experiment.
I also want to share and promote Ghana and the hidden Africa, the Africa beyond the headlines. Food is a great communicator and can bring a celebration of diversity to the table. Variety is the spice of life, so let’s enjoy treats and delights from Ghana, my special corner of Africa.