Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Adventures in Fuud

Saturday night we finally went to the Fuud Shack. You might remember it was the place just a couple of blocks from our house that was totally local and had no Obroni business at all, ever, that we could see. But it was so cute and so handy and such a good slice of normal African life that we finally couldn't resist anymore- or more probably we got to the point where looking stoopid wasn't as important as being a part of our neighborhood. Cooper declined to join us (he was grounded off the computer until Saturday and didn't want to squander any minutes he could be playing games online by eating dinner with Mom and Dad).

So just the two of us headed out to the Fuud Shack. Our plan was just to go for a beer and see what happened. We wandered in, sat at a table and ordered two large Star beers (a very good, crisp, local lager and our current favorite). The whole place is outdoors, but protected from the elements by a nice tiled roof. There are a half dozen lamps hanging from the ceiling that are basically just light bulbs inside baskets, none of which are actually over a table, so the post-sunset ambience is strictly dim. The floor is a brick paver type and there are about nine tables, two of which are the high rise type you sit at on bar stools. There is a sound system playing good African reggae and stuff.

As we drank our beers, we noticed a menu board inside the actual shack where a bartender/cashier type guy hangs out that had big print saying CHICKEN and SANDWICHES, but we were unable, in the dim light, to read anymore. We chatted and wondered occasionally if we should be going to the shack window and placing our order, when the man who gave us our table brought a laminated menu sheet. Phew! Next hurdle cleared. Obvious stupidity level not noticeably increased.

The menu had cheeseburgers, club sandwiches (in Ghana club sandwiches are very good, but they include cucumber and boiled egg, so when you come visit us, be prepared), roasted chicken with rice or fries, tilapia or whitefish with spicy gravy (gravy in Ghana is more like a side of salsa). Our guy came over and took our order- roasted chicken and fried rice for Ted and a club sandwich for me. Then he took his order pad to a man off to the side, had a brief consultation, returned to our table to tell me that they had no club sandwiches (this was not a huge surprise- Ghanaian restaurants frequently don't have menu items available). I changed it to chicken and we ordered a couple more tall Stars.

Meanwhile, the Fuud Shack is filling up, slowly. We were WAY early, having come at about 6:00pm which is easily an hour before the earliest Ghanaian diners would have come. After a while, a woman in a white outfit and long white apron came in through the back exit of the dining area with our food, handed it to the waiter and left. Apparently the kitchen is in one of the small buildings outside... Wherever the kitchen is, they turn out the world's most moist, tender, perfectly spiced roasted chicken.

At this point let me tell you, we have found our neighborhood bar/restaurant. The food is delicious, the beer is local, and the atmosphere is unbeatable, (as long as you spray DEET on your legs and feet before coming to defeat the malarial mosquitoes that come out at dusk and bite your ankles...). The location is close enough to walk to, the reception was friendly and welcoming, and the prices are unbeatable. We are so jazzed.

We finished eating and asked for the bill (you always have to ask- Ghanaians are used to Europeans who will occupy a table for hours and are usually taken by surprise by Americans who eat, then want to leave the restaurant....). When the bill came, we studied it for while and realized that the chicken (a thigh/leg combo) with side (rice or fries) each cost us ¢30,000 (about $2.30) and those freakin' big Star beers (they come in almost quart sized bottles) were less than a dollar apiece. Total bill for three large stars and two chicken dinners with cole slaw and side dish- ¢85,000 ($9.40). I'm just sayin'- when you go native, you get a real bargain. Those same Star beers, ordered in our hotel, would be almost two bucks apiece, which until Saturday we thought was a bargain! We overtipped, which meant leaving approximately $1.50 for our waiter, and left him beaming and wishing us a speedy return. No problem there- we intend to make it our second home.