Take your average mango smoothie. Sure, it tastes fresh, looks fresh, is freshly prepared, and perhaps freshens you up – but it is almost certainly made with frozen mango and reconstituted juice from fruits grown hundreds, if not thousands of kilometres away, and many months before you consume it. Not so fresh after all.
The ampesi ni kontomire pictured above, on the other hand, is about the freshest food you could wish to eat. It was my favourite lunch when I stayed in DadaK’s village for 6 weeks in the late 1990s. Last time I was there one of my sisters-in-law remembered this, and prepared it for me again.
Taro leaves (kontomire), cut from Ohemaa’s farm immediately before being boiled and ground with onions and chilli, then smothered in palm oil made from locally grown palm nuts. Served with boiled plantains (ampesi) that were also fresh from the farm that morning. Eaten with fingers (hence the bowl of water).
Ok, the palm oil was a bit older than the other ingredients, but let me tell you, no self-respecting Ghanaian would serve rancid oil, so in my view it counts as fresh too.
Sadly you won’t get it as fresh as this in Australia, unless perhaps you happen to be growing plantains and taro (a.k.a cocoyam) in your backyard, but if you want to try it out, here’s a recipe for a Fante version of ampesi ni kontomire. It’s slightly different to what I had in the village but I’m sure just as tasty.