Tuesday, October 30, 2007

They Eat Cats in Ghana

That’s what I thought last night while watching an Australian Forensic Investigation program. In the true life case, a man had been sentenced to life in prison for killing a neighbor over a fight about their cats. Both people were avid cat lovers and owners apparently.

Sometimes I forget what extremes of cultural difference I live in. Trying to explain to a Ghanaian that some families in Europe and the West actually view cats and dogs as a family member, and have been known to photograph these animals and place the photos in frames on display in their homes... well that’s as difficult as it is for me to explain to people back in Canada, that in Ghana, cats are viewed no differently than chickens, and are killed, prepared and eaten in much the same way. Not everyone in Ghana eats cats or dogs, but then not everyone in Canada eats Maple syrup and I could safely say that people eat maple syrup in Canada.

I thought it would be fun to find some examples of Ghanaian quisine that would shock and horrify just a little.

Cat stew at a local restaurant (along with the artist’s depiction of a cat head on a plate) rated right up at the top, along with the ever loved Shito sauce – a dark brown well named paste, made from burned salted shrimps and small fish with hot peppers and ginger. MMMM!

I think I’ve already covered ‘bush meat’ – which is a funky name for big cane rats – which are sold on the roadside, bodies open splayed and stretched across homemade wooden grills. Again… appetizing? Those who say no in this part of the world are the minority.

I must say, the first time I brought pizza home to the Ghanaian traditional compound which I lived in for 5 years (a whole ‘nuther story!), the reaction by all resembled what Westerners would say about the aforementioned items in this story. No one knew what cheese was, nor why anyone would bake bread so thin, then smother it with what looks like glue and tomato sauce!!! I got the nervous giggles from the kids and the disgusted dismissal of such food by the adults.

To each his own I guess – except when you live in the grey zone between both worlds!
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