Weekend in Rome, bread baking again


I had three days in Rome, and as usual baked some bread, between seeing friends and sorting bank issues. I’d bought some buckwheat flour in Paris to make crêpes, and used some here. Some items in my food cupboards in Accra and Rome have terrible food miles. Anyway, I wanted an everyday loaf that would freeze and slice well, so I keep trying variations of no-knead bread. This is getting close to what I have in mind. Sourdough would be better, hopefully I can get back to that eventually.


At my old bus stop in Garbatella: things do not change that much.


May weekend bread  (this made 4 small loaves)

25 g fresh yeast (or 12 grammes dry yeast)
3 tsp salt
1300 grammes white wheat flour (here, 00)
250 grammes wholewheat flour
100 grammes fine rye flour
100 grammes buckwheat flour (farine de sarassin)
50 grammes flax seeds

1.5 litre water  (sorry I forgot this when first posting)

Dissolve the fresh yeast in the water, then add everything else. Mix everything well, fold and fold with a strong spatula. Cover bowl (I use a plastic shower cap) and leave it to double for a few hours at room temperature. I folded it again, then divided dough between four mall parchment-lined bread tins. With bigger tins this might make 3 large loaves. Leave to double again, with a kitchen towel covering the tins. Heat oven to 230C and slash the tops with scissors right before loaves go in, so edges do not crack. Bake for 45 minutes or so, depending on your oven. Cool on rack before slicing.

Note: this dough was a little less wet than last time.


Garbage piling up in Rome. There is a good system for separating rubbish (bins for plastic and aluminum, paper, organic, glass and then the rest) but when it does not get collected, it quickly accumulates. Accra is not the only city with a waste problem.


On a more pleasant note, despite the bad graffiti, the street shrines are still there, with plastic flowers and candles.

More Accra snapshots


Oh, the joy of the rainy season! Amazing what a few degrees temperature drop means in terms of ambling around town actually being pleasant. Rather than Ubering, I have been walking and exploring new streets in our area of Accra.


Walking to Osu one day: goats! Small but glossy. I have a work trip coming up and wanted to get some Ghanaian chocolate as gifts for the hosts: Niche has a new multipack, good for sharing.  I was quite pleased to see this new coffee in Shoprite: still robusta coffee, but the packaging is very Accra, with the the Jamestown lighthouse. Definitely need to get some to try. 37 cedi is about … 7 USD.


New street explored, new food place to try when open.


Food for the soul as well: they do like religious events here. Prophets, apostles: there are always posters for past and upcoming encounters.


Some modern skyline for you, at the African Union roundabout.


And some outfits in the gorgeous local fabric: here, you can wear this every day. The longer I am here, the colorful my wardrobe gets.


Accra and water sachets


Water sachets: you see these everywhere in Accra. 20-30 cedi for one, about 5 cents, often the cheapest way to get water around town. You bite off the corner, and drink. The sachets are made of  high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a non-biodegradable material. Street vendors have big bowls with water sachets, and you see them being delivered around town, like on this small truck here. Many households do not have regular basic water and sanitation services.


Once used, sachet wrappers are often discarded on streets and in gutters, creating an environmental sanitation problem. Walking to work, I often pass these chickens foraging among burnt rubbish and water discarded water sachets. Not as bad as some areas, like Agbogbloshie, but not optimal. (Note: Accra is also glossy new buildings, lovely people, modern shops and trendy restaurants, this is just a more ground-level post, after two weeks of walking a lot.)


In the rainy season Accra sometimes floods, partially due to the gutters being clogged with dirt, debris and plastic waste. Then it rains, the waste washes out to sea, and becomes a problem for fishermen and marine life. Accra beaches are generally pretty grim. The city is trying to improve the situation, but a ban on plastics like Rwanda and Kenya seems far away. And people still need access to clean drinking water.


The water is mean to be clean, and fortunately most water sachet producers maintain acceptable quality levels. Last week we were warned about the risk of a cholera outbreak, due to the rainy season and poor sanitary conditions, and that both piped water sources and sachet may not be safe for drinking and should be boiled. I am lucky that I can afford to have drinking water delivered to my flat, big 20 litre containers. I still use tap water for cooking pasta and such, I just make sure the water boils for a minute or two before I add the food. Many Accra inhabitants do not have that luxury.

Fortunately Trashy Bags does some great work in using discarded water sachets, which are otherwise often just discarded. Highly recommended. There is some plastic recycling here, but mainly hard plastic waste.


Tro-tro (minibus taxi) of the week: less religion, more American imagery.