Monday, September 24, 2007

Chili Peppers!

On our very first road trip we saw tons of Ghanaian Red Chili peppers drying on the roadsides and at the time I thought to myself, "I'll have to get a picture of those sometime."

Cut to now, more than two years later and I finally got my picture.

Dopey me was thinking those peppers would just hang out waiting for me and my camera, because, hey! this is the equator and everything blooms 365, right? D'oh!

Luckily, when my sister was here, we were covering some of the same ground, at the same time of year, and VOILA! lots of roadside peppers, drying in the sun.

This is very much along the lines of the pumpkin patches in Mississippi that so astonished us (and provided our friends with no end of mirth and merriment)- where hundreds of Hallowe'en pumpkins were left on an empty lot on Brookway Blvd., unattended at night, and no one thought (or saw fit) to steal, smash, or otherwise annoy them.

In Ghana, if you didn't chop and stack that pile of wood on the roadside- don't even think about picking it up and taking it home to your cooking fire.

If you didn't build that furniture on the roadside, "locked" up for the night by being tied inside a plastic tarp- don't consider taking it home for the family room.

And if you didn't PICK those chilis, don't pick those chilis UP.

They aren't yours, and no Ghanaian would consider taking them.

So there they were, on the side of the road.

Or more accurately, in the middle of the road- drying in the sun, unattended.

I'm sure there were people keeping an eye on me from somewhere not too far off- even if they weren't the chili owners.

"What on Earth is that Obroni doing NOW?" ;-)

These chilis will be used to make "Ghanaian Gravy". Not shito (that's got fish and stuff in it), but the basic oil/onion/chili paste that is served in small bowls with small spoons with every Ghanaian meal whether you are in a Chinese restaurant or a neighborhood chop bar.

It's thick, it's dark and dangerous looking, and it's lethal.

Whenever we eat with Duke, he always mixes chili gravy into his rice.

And we always moan and congratulate him on his asbestos constitution, because even though we can eat a lot spicier food that we did when we were less well-travelled, we still can't manage about 60% of Ghanaian heat.

Interestingly, these chili peppers are also used as Elephant Deterrents. Seriously.

Apparently elephants don't like chili peppers, so cloths are smeared or soaked with a paste of them, and hung near crops in the north part of Ghana- instant elephant repellant.

If only you could smear it on yourself and get them to stop and lick you before deciding whether or not to kill and eat you, it could be a lifesaver. Although your skin might never recover.