Quick summer pasta with vegetables

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Toy animals in gorgeous local fabrics at the craft market. I’ll be traveling again soon, and really needed to clear out the vegetable drawer. I also have French classes two days after work now, very enjoyable but quick dinners are needed those nights. The stars had clearly aligned for a quick summer pasta with vegetables. This comes together in the time it takes to cook the spaghetti and get Stranger Things season 3 ready on Netflix.

Quick summer pasta with vegetables (serves 3)

300 grammes of spaghetti, or pasta of your choice
3-4 tbs olive oil
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 local yellow squash, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 small eggplant, chopped
salt, pepper
a couple slices of leftover prosciutto, sliced

grated parmesan (use vegetarian cheese for fully vegetarian meal)

Boil the pasta. Gently fry the squash in a large frying pan, then add aubergine pieces and cherry tomatoes (the tomatoes will release some juices which stops the aubergines from absorbing all the olive oil).  We added a little prosciutto, to help empty out the fridge shelves. Add some generous pinches of salt and a little pepper to taste. When pasta is ready, drain it and toss it all in the frying pan. Add grated parmesan, and enjoy.

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Not so pretty, but fast and very tasty. You could do this with other vegetables too. The grated parmesan does make a difference  in pulling the dish together. As usual, getting the pasta cooked but still a little al dente is needed, as it will absorb some moisture from the vegetables. I used tap water to boil the pasta, we have not heard of cholera outbreaks in Accra this rainy season yet. There is a polio outbreak in Tamale, though.

Did anyone see Conan O’Brien in Ghana in June?  Most odd to see images of him on Oxford Street. He also went to Kumasi.

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Accra and water sachets

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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

Accra catch-up

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It’s been a while: too much traveling, too much work. Nice to be back in Accra to enjoy the cooler weather. Under 30C, a little overcast many days: I’ve been walking and walking, enjoying being outside without immediately dripping with sweat. The rainy season is here, which is such a nice change.

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A kenkey shack.  Kenkey is a sourdough dumpling usually served with pepper sauce and fried fish or soup, stew. Many great signs, but it is hard to take pictures here so when it’s a weekend, I try to capture a bit of Accra. It’s not just deep choked gutters, goats and poverty, there are also modern buildings, a lively arts scene and very nice people.

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The National Theatre, very sweeping and white.

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Two Canadians were kidnapped in Kumasi. Thank goodness they have been rescued, and of course we are told the kidnappers were all Nigerian. Nigerians are blamed for a lot of crime here.  There have been several kidnappings here in the last months, so we are keeping an ear out. Being told not to take taxis or Ubers is not really practical for many of us, and generally Accra is not that unsafe so far.

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So I’ve had my walks, looking at chop shops (food shacks) which are often seem to have bits of shipping containers in their structure. Trees and churches, bored guards on plastic chairs, chickens, compound walls with “PROPERTY NOT FOR SALE”  or “DO NOT URINATE HERE”, discarded water sachets, carefully swept sidewalks. Lottery booths, kids in school uniforms, early morning joggers, ladies selling bread rolls or bananas, tro-tros (minibus taxis) with Shatta Wale pictures.

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Beautiful baskets, of course. (Yes, I bought another one.)

shatta wale on tro tro

Here you are: tro-tro with a) religious phrase and b) Shatta Wale!