Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MANHYIA PROMOTES LOCAL DISHES (PAGE 29)

IT is not for nothing that the Manhyia Palace is the epitome of Ashanti norms and traditions.
Over the years the palace has become a tourist centre, where people go to have a taste of the rich Ashanti culture and learn about the history of the great people of Ashanti.
But something that many may not have observed is the availability of Ashanti dishes, which are hardly found in homes in the city.
These dishes, regrettably, have become forgotten species and many believe that unless something is done to the situation they would go into extinction in the not too distant future.
For people who appreciate traditional dishes, the only place that one can have an assortment of traditional Ashanti dishes is the Manhyia Palace.
It is regrettable that many of the country's traditional dishes are dying out gradually when as a nation we are trying to maintain the values of our culture.
Indeed culture transcends drumming and dancing. The food we eat, our mode of dressing, how we carry ourselves in public are all part of a people's culture and this is what no place can match the Manhyia Palace.
Recently, my 10-year-old daughter refused to eat dinner because her mother had prepared fufu with soup made of a type of mushroom called "sasie" in Twi.
This type of mushroom makes the soup black and just when the food was placed before the little girl, she started crying, telling the mother that she would fall sick if she ate it.
It was not her fault. The so-called modernity has relegated such nutritious dishes to the background.
My daughter, like other children living in the city and other big towns, preferred to have fried rice instead of the "sasie" soup with fufu.
It is not only children who have black spots for our traditional dishes. Today many adults have thrown away our traditional foods.
The irony of the situation is that a number of married women, especially the young ones are unable to prepare certain traditional dishes for their spouses when asked to do so.
A friend recently told me how his wife disappointed him when his uncle who had travelled from their village on a visit in Kumasi requested for "eto", a dish prepared with partially ripe plantain.
His wife had to see an elderly woman to bail her out because although she is an Ashanti woman, this lady knew nothing about its preparation.
At the forecourt of the Manhyia Palace however, all the almost forgotten dishes can be found.
Mind you they are not prepared in the palace. Women prepare them elsewhere and sell them in the forecourt of the palace. They are only sold there to enable people from other parts of Asanteman who participate or observe various activities at the palace to have a taste of their choice.
Mpotompoto, apitie, akankye, bosua and many others are all traditional foods that are so delicious and nutritious.
To the sellers, although their prime motive is to make money, the decision to concentrate their activities at the Manhyia Palace is due to the fact that that is the only place where on daily basis, people from all parts of Asanteman congregate.
They also believe that selling the traditional foods would help preserve Ashanti culture.

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