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23.05.2006 General News

Ghanaian foods to be heavily promoted


Accra, May 23, GNA - A renowned New York-based chef and author will for the next few years heavily promote Ghanaian foods internationally to people who travel to eat and with food as their major reoccupation. Mr Anthony Bourdain told the GNA in an interview at the end of filming a documentary on Ghanaian cuisine and culture, said he was highly optimistic that Ghanaian foods would soon attract a lot of international attention.

"Like all great culinary cultures, Ghana has succeeded in transforming the need to preserve food into something very delicious and sophisticated," he noted. "I like stews and soups and I find Ghanaian foods very delicious with beautiful colours."

Mr Bourdain stressed: "They are very much in line with my own. They are very spicy, however, there is a good balance between the ingredients and spice. In the end, you taste the fish and not only the spice and that is a good thing."

The executive chef at Les Halles, a French Brasserie, would feature the documentary as art of a global series on his "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations," show, which is broadcast to about 77 million viewers worldwide of the Travel Channel, a subsidiary of the Discovery Channel. Additionally, he will write articles on Ghanaian food and culture for major gourmet magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times.

He, however, stressed the importance of having more direct and cheaper flights from the United States and elsewhere to Ghana to make travelling less stressful.

In one week, the French chef of more than three decades, travelled around the country to eat a variety of foods, including groundnut soup, his favourite, kontomire sauce, fufu, banku, omo tuo, yakayaka, waakye and kenkey from restaurants, chop bars and the Osu night market in Accra.

He also watched the production of palm wine and akpeteshie, which he described as "lethal fire water" at Adahomase in the Ashanti Region. "But I like that stuff," he added.

Reacting to questions about adapting Ghanaian food to suit international taste, Mr Bourdain, whose book, "A Cook's Tour: In Search of a Perfect Meal," in 2002 won the Guild of Food Writers Award, said "any adaptation would be a terrible mistake."

"The banku, fufu, kenkey and the rest are already good," he declared. "It would be a terrible mistake to change it to suit Asian, European or American taste. They must stay how they are; international taste would find them."

Asked about the nutritional value of the foods, Mr Bourdain said he put more value on eating for pleasure than anything else but noted a meal usually consisted of a sensible amount of vegetables, a sensible amount protein with a bigger portion of carbohydrate as there was a high cultural value on food that filled the stomach.

The author who has visited many different arts of the world to explore culture, people, cities, among other things, said he was very impressed with Ghana and would, consequently, promote the country to travellers, especially those who were seeing Africa for the first time. "Ghana is an easy place to visit for reasons both historical and practical," he observed.

"Things work here. The infrastructure is pretty good, the telephone system works, the political structures are comparatively better. Unlike my experiences elsewhere, the production went exceptionally well here and the people who showed me around the country did so with military tae precision and efficiency."

"Everywhere I went, I was received with incredible kindness by people very proud to represent their country, communities, tribes and I felt respect for them. Look, people are proud where they live; they cook well and have great music, what else do you need to become a great country?" he asked.

"Regardless of their circumstances, people here have open hearts, have a good sense of humour and are welcoming to strangers and I think that is great."

Mr Bourdain encouraged Ghanaians to engage the world to take advantage of globalization, but said parents, leaders and those in authority should make it their responsibility to constantly remind the younger generation that they had a great culture and there were things worth preserving.

Mr Bourdain's trip took him to the stilts village at Nzuelezo in the Western Region, Mole National Park and Megnori village in the Northern Region, Kokrobite, Makola, Osu Night Market in the Greater Accra. He also spent time with renowned musician Agya Koo Nimo. The documentary would be the third in the series of programmes by Discovery Channel in America to promote Ghana. It is expected to be broadcast in January.

"Ghana: The Presidential Tour" was the first, followed by "Eclipse Chasers."