A wall on the edge of Osu, spotted while heading home after getting groceries. Often walls will have “Don’t urinate here”, as public urination is very common in Accra. Not all households have toilet facilities. A 2017 WaterAid report says 85.7% of the Ghanaian populace do not have access to decent toilets in their homes and are forced to use mainly unhygienic public toilets or resort to open defecation, which increases risk of cholera. Next to downtown Accra with flashy modern buildings, Uber, organic vegetable orders by whatsapp, air conditioned supermarkets and glossy coffee bars, there is still the “normal” reality for many. The government still has vision of a clean Accra by 2020, but there is a long way to go.
Anyway, on to a happier topic, written from our gated compound apartment with multiple toilets (so privileged….. not taken for granted. We pay for the housing, not our employer.) Friends came for lunch and I threw together some flatbread to go with antipasto.
Flatbread with sunflower seeds, and with zaatar
600 ml lukewarm water
10 g fresh yeast (or 5 gr dry yeast)
200 g coarse rye flour
580 g white wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
Topping for baking: sunflower seeds, zaatar, olive oil, salt
Stir the yeast in the water until it mostly dissolves. Add the rest except toppings, and fold a few times. It will be quite sticky, but should not be runny: this depends a bit in your flour too. I used rye flour as I had some at hand, but you could use wholewheat or all white flour if you want. Cover the bowl (I use a plastic hotel shower cap) and leave it to rest for a few hours. In Accra at 27C I left it four hours, in cooler places it can rest overnight. I was counting down to lunch and this rose just fine.
Tip the dough out and divide in two parts. Do not knead it, but try to stretch it out on parchment paper to approximate rectangles to fit two baking trays. It will be sticky.
Heat the oven to 250C with baking tray inside. Flatbread with sunflower seeds: brush a little olive oil ob the top of the dough rectangle,and sprinkle some sunflower seeds and cracked salt on top. For the flatbread with zaatar, I mixed olive oil (maybe 1/3 cup) with 2 tbs zaatar in a small bowl, then brushed that on the other dough. Let it rest 20-30 minutes. Slide the baking parchment with dough onto the hot baking tray, and bake 12-13 minutes or so until baked through and golden. Cool a bit before slicing.
Not so pretty but tasty, especially with a nice South African wine. I sliced them into small rectangles for serving. The one with zaatar probably could have used even more olive oil, it looks a little burnt but was very nice. The wind blew a wine glass into the bread basket, which did not improve the taste, but most was salvaged.
And yes, we acknowledged that this Italian lunch was a bubble of privilege, a little time-out, and that sometimes it is a very strange life here, far away from family and our own homes, though with some good friends. Some days it is hard to see if some parts of development work are making enough of a difference, other days it is clear and meaningful. A Canadian friend just told me about The Story of the Hummingbird, as told by the Kenyan environmental activist, women’s rights advocate, and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai. Really lovely: We must do what we can.
Just spotted in town: an information stand for the Accra toilet campaign. 1100 GHS is about 233 USD.