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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Anonymous said...

This blog is oh so terrible. You people eat so many things that we would consider unnatural yet we still accept you, in some ways at least.We must be doing something right because you live to be what 55 to 60 at the most and age terrible yet we ghanaians live and age gracefully.

Anonymous said...

Who are these, "You People" you speak of? Anyone who eats meat can be looked on as eating what is unnatural. Learn your history before you comment. What is deemed as 'normal' in each culture is what's most available. So take your ignorance somewhere else. And as for living to 55 or to 60, "those people" live longer than "your people" based on having access to the same means of life. Learn some more before you comment.

Anonymous said...

Shito is made from dried pepper & oil, sometimes with dried shrimp. In fact it has the same look, taste and texture as Chinese or Japanese pepper sauce. Only difference is the name. Plus it tastes delicious.
As for cat meat. Its bush meat, its not the domestic cat that people keep as pets!
Its easy to point the finger at things you don't understand. I could do the same with foods such as Black pudding. Which is mad from clotted Blood. Rabbit stew. Some cultures eat Hare (wild rabbit), Snails and Frogs legs. But they are not domestic animals. They're breed to be consumed.

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Obibini Bruni said...

I am going to have to agree with the first three comment-ers. It really is unfortunate that you would live in a place and perpetuate negative stereotypes of this sort and encourage those not knowing said place to think negatively of the culture in which you are living. I really do hope your opinions have since become more positive.

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