Food Culture

My apartment is occupied almost exclusively by Togolese people. They speak Ewe, are christian, eat differantly, and are like me- strangers in a strange land. They are always calling me out to the center courtyard area where everyone eats Togoalese food every night together.  I have heard that usually the last thing to change in an immigrents lifestyle after moving to a new place, is the food. Someone can live in a new country for 20 years, and still want to make their own dishes from home. (I could live here forever and I would never under my own volition pound corn for an  hour with a wooden morter and pestle, in order to eat gloppy polenta, for example.) For me the food is pretty similar to Burkina food, but for them its totally differant. Reflecting the differance in climate, there is more plantain, more palm oil and more pepper, less boabob leaves and less cooscoos.
The Togolese food rituals keep the people of my little apartment connected to eachother, and in celebration of their own country. Because I live here too, I just participate in the little Togo celebration every night too. I Just came in from eating a mountain of fufu with 12 people.  Fufu isnt a food from around here. It is a coastal West African dish that grows on you but is a bit weird to eat. Think mashed potatoes mixed with flour and water to get it stickier. Really its cassava pounded for an hour and served with soup. People who love it, (almost all Ghanains, Togalies, and Nigerians) really love it.
The wonderful thing about fufu is that it is a community food. It is one of the foods that you really cant eat in any way except the traditional african way- One huge bowl, lots of people, no spoons. It takes a lot of work to make fufu, so it is not something people make for themselves alone. Compaired to the lonely american food culture of eating in the car or alone in front of a TV, food is a celebration here. Everyone is together.
My Togalise friends also come and sit in my room sometimes. I might be reading a book or painting, and they will just come in  and hang out. Often they arent even talking. I love it, but still havent worked up the courage to do the same in their rooms. In my western culture, you need a reason to just show up and sit in someone elses room uninvited. But here privacy isnt such a noble and important thing to protect.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Food Culture

  1. Brett Poirier

    I am loving your blogs (and photos) so keep them coming! Great insights for someone never having been there and unlikely to ever get there…..

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