LA has food trucks, New York City has street meat, and Ghana has absolutely everything under the sun on sale and on the move. On foot. Ladies and gentlemen alike roam the streets with anything from donuts to smoked fish towered high on their heads, ready to sell to the random passerby. Talk about real convenience.
This phenomenon is most impressive while in a tro tro, Ghana’s Greyhound. Sellers loiter around windows and doors shouting out their offerings in a way that never fails to make me smile (yay-ees pi-ah why-tah = yes pure water). Ice cold water is at the window before you realize you’re thirsty and at the time of departure you have everything you could ever need and more, whether that’s plantain chips, bread, hard-boiled egg, ice cream, gum, matches, a belt, bedazzled hair clips, permanent markers, or a book on how to succeed in life, with a chapter on how to appropriately answer the phone.
A special stop is made halfway between Accra and Hohoe to stock up on more goodies, this time a little more exotic. Familiar items like biscuits and toffee are swapped for skewered mollusks and bags of microscopic fish from Lake Volta, which Ghanaians eat the same way I devour a can of Pringles. Bottoms up to get those last crumbles.
On a recent trip to Accra, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
Well, the snail, kindly provided by my seat mate, tasted something like mud and took about 17 minutes of chewing before I deemed it swallow-able. Not recommended. The fish are manageable, until you remember that the small things you’re crunching on have eyeballs. My favorite is abolo, a slightly sweet corn bread cooked in a leaf.
At the end of the day, I settled on a Ring Pop I happened to have in my bag from when I handed them out to the neighbor kids. All those chemicals in the cherry flavor really helped wash out the mud.
I guess I learned that while street sellers rock, not everything off their heads tastes like a bag of candy.