For about a year, I have been exposed to the thought-grabbing question about why gari is free when you buy yoor kɛ gari but not so for waakye although I cant really tell if it is suppose to be a funny question or it is just meant to pause our minds and think; making the question rhetorical.
Yoor kɛ gari is a type of Ghanaian dish made from beans, ripped plantain and gari (main ingredients) as the name literally gives away. It is known as beans and dodo / porridge beans and dodo in Nigeria but popularly known as gorbe, yoor kɛ gari, borbor, beans ne Kɔkɔɔ and red red in Ghana. On the other hand, Waakye is a street food made from rice and beans with it origin from the northern part of Ghana and pronounced as /WAA-CHAY/.
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I love to eat Waakye and yoor kɛ gari. The most original waakye is the one sold beside the gutter…ha! These two Ghanaian foods are a delicacy if well prepared. Some of the major ingredients they share are beans (black eyed beans), Bicarbonate of Soda (popularly known as kwenwe / kewu / among Ghanaians to soften the beans and hasten the cooking process) and our Ghanaian all purpose and friend of all; gari. Usually, they are both served on large green plantain leaves rather than polythene.
Is the gari added to gorbe really free? We all need to understand that gari is not free when you buy waakye and the case is not different even with yoor kɛ gari. As a lover of yoor kɛ gari, I have from many years of eating and purchasing experiences observed that if you buy yoor kɛ gari, the quantity of beans you are served increases anytime you decide not to take gari. To avoid any cheating attempt by the vendor, I pay attention when I’m being served and that is how I came to the realisation that gari from the gorbe vendor is not really free.
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In certain instances, you can even ask for more gari. However in this case, the beans will be slightly reduced. The trick to avoid this is to wait for the vendor to dish out the beans and when she later dishes out the gari, inform her that you would like extra gari. If you tell her before she dishes out the beans, it shall be reduced. However some vendors are not afraid to scoop back at least a spoon of beans if you try that trick on them while others don’t mind giving you extra gari because the gari’s charge is hidden in your unassumingly prix fixe dish.
This also happens with buying koko (porridge) without sugar. The usual amount of koko you are given is increased should you decide to not take sugar. Sometimes consumers who buy with money lower than the recommended cost are pardoned and served anyways should they decide to not take sugar. I sometimes buy koko without sugar not only because I already have sugar in the refrigerator at home but also because I can do with a little more porridge for that day’s breakfast.
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Gari of red red is not free because beans ne kɔkɔɔ is considered as one meal and not two separate meals by the vendors thus the price automatically covers both the gari and the beans as though they are inseparable. This is just like a prix fixe or a table d’hôte dish at a restaurant. However the good news is that no one is really cheated since no gari means extra beans for you.
The gari that would have been given to you if you had preferred, has been replaced for small extra beans. This means whether you want gari with your beans ne kɔkɔɔ or not, the money charged by the vendor covers both. If you think the gari is actually free then how do the vendors make up for the cost of the gari they purchased? Everything has already been calculated for together with the expected profit.
And even though red red seems incomplete without the gari, there are actually quite a few reasons why one not want to take gari. Perhaps the consumer already has gari at home and thus wants the extra small beans or would like to enjoy the beans with something else like I do with Nkran Dokono (Ga kenkey), boiled yam and plane rice.
Image Courtesy Sequence Muitimedia Kenkey Fest 2020.
The cost of gari for gorber is hidden or treated as a table d’hôte dish with the beans but the cost of the gari for waakye is known. Please let it not ever come to mind that Aunty Muni is wrongly charging you for gari when you buy her waakye. Besides, one can still enjoy waakye even without gari. I rarely buy gari when taking waakye because I like it dry and white on my food rather than wet and oiled like it is sold by the vendors. I just sprinkle as much as I want when I get home. I sometimes do the same sprinkling with my red red. As for those who add, fish, egg, and slices of pear to their beans, gari, ne kɔkɔɔ nu…‘me ma mo ayekoo!’ (congratulations).
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Whether you take gari, refuse to take gari or even ask for extra gari the price has already been estimated into the amount you are charged. There’s no free lunch in this world and even beans ne kɔkɔɔ is not an exception.
Watch a video from one year ago by Ghanaian actor James Gardiner puzzled about why gari will be given out freely when buying beans but obliged to buy when opting for waakye.
Have you heard of gari vibes? It’s anther interesting way of eating gari soakings. Check it out.
Image Courtesy Gari Vibes
Footnote: Prix fixe is a dish or a menu of dishes in which the entire meal is offered at a single fixed price while Table d’hôte is a dish or a menu of dishes offering a complete meal with little choices at a fixed price. They both do not allow a fixed list of individually priced options
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