Four days in France (étaient fabuleux)

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I just had four days in France, which felt like ten days away. Great company (my husband), and no agenda except going to two concerts by The Opposition (this is from another concert last year) – and exploring amazing food that we would not get in Accra.  It took us three days to actually have a macaron, we were busy enjoying baguettes and almond croissants and walking for miles. Coming from 32-33C, just walking without being sweat-drenched was lovely, and Paris is lovely, especially with no sightseeing plans whatsoever. Well, apart from looking at food:

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Baguette fillings: you buy your baguette, choose your filling and voila! Lunch! The boulangeries and pâtisseries were such fun, even just to look at. Paris-Brest, canelés, religieuses, pastries I have seen on the Great British Bake Off technical challenges but never in real life: I was thrilled.Maybe next time I will have time to taste them.

We ambled up Rue des Martyrs in the rain the first day at lunchtime and snacked our way from Japanese gyoza to Breton buckwheat crêpes, and never got hungry enough for dinner that day. The next morning we went to E. Dehillerin and fondled cookware, resisting life-sized pear-shaped silicone moulds as they would not fit in handluggage (imagine! all kinds of pear-shaped desserts for the next year!). Silly, but tempting. We settled for some tiny tins for petit fours, and now must research how one makes those. I have a vague idea of layers, or pastry cream and tiny berries. Probably not something we will try in our Accra kitchen, but a fun project to try.

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How about a BUCKET of chocolate mousse, labeled “Make love not mousse”? Tempting, again, but we were shopping for a train picnic, and made do with baguettes and camembert, and tart lemon yoghurt. I adore foreign supermarkets.

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Tins of tripe in Normandie, which did not make it back to Accra with me. Some cassoulet might just have, though. And maybe some crottin de chevre, apple jam with Calvados, Roquefort, butter with sel de guerande, and a packet of microwavable cheese souffles. How bad can those be? We shall see.

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This is from a local cheese van near Caen at the Saturday market, the smell and taste was amazing. Imagine having gorgeous cheese like that available every day….. and speaking impeccable French….. je ne peux que rêver. My French was more functional than I expected, which is always good  (or maybe I just had very patient counterparts). It was an excellent mini-break!

 

 

 

Catching up: Norway, London, Accra, Rome, Accra…….

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Catching up here after a lot of traveling on the last six weeks: first a white Christmas in Norway, lots of concerts and family. Sledding with our nephew. A bit of Christmas baking: this was sent by my sister, who is very fond of giraffes.

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Christmas presents from my parents: Norwegian food, some for my in-laws in London, some bound for Rome, and a few items for Accra (kaviar, apple jelly, prim). The reindeer sausage was delicious, and with all the cheese Veganuary is being delayed.

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A few days in London over New Year’s, with the English in-laws, who are lovely. Homemade Christmas cake, walks along the Thames, and always on offer: “a nice cup of tea”, which is black and strong with milk  (urrrrghhhh). They know I like my tea terribly weak by British standards. I bought mince pies (4 for 10p!) and flew back to Accra.

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One week in Accra, early January. The harmattan has been weaker this year (dry, dusty winds from the Sahara) but with lower humidity it was actually OK to walk around town. But then I went to Rome for work (such a hardship).

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Deepfried artichoke, mmmmmmm……  I had really intensive days of meetings and work planning, and very little time for seeing friends, but Rome is always lovely (despite the crumbling roads, piles of garbage – it will get better). We also had two nights in Tuscany with friends, during which I made chickpeas cacio e pepe. Really good. More to follow on that.

Now I am back in Accra for a month or so before the next trip, and am looking forward to getting back to regular cooking again. Today I am just making Italian lentil-pea soup, not very photogenic but good winter food (even when it is 31C……) The apple jelly survived the trip, so I need to bake bread soon.  For now it is just nice to unpack and start catching up here.

A food shopping morning

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Another Saturday for errands: Labone Farmers Shop for certain vegetables (fresh sweetcorn, potatoes), then Fair Way for lentils and tahini, followed by frozen yoghurt at Pinkberry.  Accra has a surprisingly decent shopping selection, besides the roadside stands which can be excellent for pineapple, eggs and avocado. Different shops are good for different items, but you never know what will be in stock. Good bread flour comes in, then vanishes for several months, so I stock up and hope the storage containers are ant-proof.

No, I did not stock up on the Unicorn FrootLoops for 69.50 cedi which is fifteen USD….. or the alien fennel at Maxmart. I bought local pumpkin, ginger, green bell peppers, pineapple, carrots, green beans…. They are marking more items as “Product of Ghana” now, though you can usually tell from the prices what is imported.  Shoprite bananas are sometimes very green, so i got some of those as well as they will be perfect for banana fritters tomorrow.

More to tempt you: the frozen feet selection at Shoprite in Osu. My local supermarket in Rome sells fresh horse steaks, which is also exotic in its own way. Much of the Shoprite meat seems to come frozen from South Africa, but the packages below are produced in Ghana, which is good. So much imported food here, when there is so much potential. There is supposed to be a One DistrictOne Factory programme to create jobs and increase industrialisation, slow going so far but we hear a ceramics factory is on its way, and agro-processing factories are planned. If they create jobs and diminish food imports, that would be good.

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More avoided items: the new frozen cakes, at 135.99 cedi, which is 30 USD. Who can afford that? Very interesting, what shows up here, and where it comes from. The locally produced icecream FanIce is fine, and much more affordable. They sell individual icecreams in plastic sachets, and in a supermarket line the other day, a gentleman had four chocolate FanIces. “For a friend in New York!” he explained. He was flying out that night and was bringing the frozen FanIce pouches to his homesick Ghanaian friend, carefully wrapped in plastic bags. I hope they arrived safely.

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No, I bought my tinned orange marmalade and Ubered home. Maybe a steamed marmalade pudding tonight?  A good 1 May to all!

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