Weekend in Tamale

Downtown Tamale. I am up in Northern Ghana for the weekend, towards the Burkina Faso border.

Easy one hour flight north from Accra. Starbow and Africa World Airlines fly, my return ticket (bought late) was 640 cedi, about 145 USD.

On our way to dinner we went to the Centre for National Arts (closed) then bumped into a huge cultural event: a record launch by local artist Maccasio. The streets were packed with honking fans in scooters, walking, hanging out of cars. Massive, really cheerful parade of young fans.

Many fans had Maccasio or 69 T-shirts, a few had painted themselves blue with 69 (record label, I think).

Record launch in the news! 30,000 watched the parade. And here is Maccasios last video:


We had a nice dinner outdoors at Chuck’s. Tamale sounds really interesting but tough as a place to live compared to Accra: there is a Melcom, but no big supermarkets or malls like Accra, so you might buy toilet paper in a shack like this:

And drop your laundry off here:

We did, as my friend’s flat has no washing machine. Also no oven, so she cooks on a hot plate. A bit like camping, but for three months. I feel really privileged to be in Accra with a functional kitchen and access to grocery stores.

But people are very friendly here! Here foreigners are simalengas, not obruni. Many more people are Muslim than in the south, lots of little mosques. Off to explore more now!

Two very hot days in Garbatella

Piazza Bonomelli, deserted in the afternoon heat. What a luxury, 48 hours at home in Rome! Our suitcases are packed for the return to Accra: freshly baked cantucci from Tuscany, truffle salami from the farmers market here Sunday, migraine medication for three months, and a little mozzarella. Let’s hope my suitcase is not delayed 24 hours again…

The Lucifer heatwave is still in force, too hot to do much. Quiet streets, 37.6C right now but not yet passing the 2003 record of 40.6C. 

Caffe freddo at the Bar dei Cesaroni up the hill, a Roma stronghold. Nero the parrot is still there. Good that things do not change too much here!

Photo from January when it was MUCH colder.

Italian stopover: vongole, leeks and cannelini

Too much travelling the last few months, too little cooking. We just finished a lovely week off the Tuscan coast with friends. I am recovering from food poisoning  (never again samosas in Dar es Salaam…..) so ate little and cooked less, but this dish went down well. 

Italy is also in the grip of the heatwave named Lucifer. HOT here!

Same island every year, always wonderful. It seemed a bit quiet this year, the Italian economy must still be down. 

But we had a great week! Fresh fish and seafood from the fish truck, shouting Pesce Fresco each morning.

Vongole with leeks and cannelini

Bag of vongole (small clams)
Three cloves of garlic
Two leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
One medium tin of cannelini beans or other beans
Generous handful parsley, chopped
Two tbs olive oil
Splash of white wine or water, half a lemon if you have one 

Toast  or crusty bread to serve

Cataplana debut! I bought this in Lisbon in June, took it back to Accra, but decided this holiday was a good time to try it. Special pan for steaming shellfish, it clamps shut like a low level pressure cooker and worked really well. 

First: soak clams in water in sink for half an hour, removing any damaged ones or ones that do not close. 

Hear pan with a little oil and white wine or water, tip in handful of clams and steam 4-5 minutes with lid on. You will hear clams pop open. With a slotted spoon fish out done clams and do next batch, I did this in three batches so they were not crowded. 
Leaving liquid in pan, add sliced leeks and garlic and cook 2 or 3 minutes while you de-shell clams and remove any that did not open. Optional step, we were waiting for a lunch guest.  Then add drained beans, chopped parsley and clams and heat briefly through. Maybe half a lemon squeezed over? Serve with toast or crusty bread.

Happy holidays!