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One time one of my uncles accused me of being “grandma’s favorite grandson”. His reason was this; they had been home together all day but she (grandma) hadn’t bothered to cook. No, not till I arrived. ” ‘Oye nii? meni obaa ye?’ she asked and proceeded to the kitchen to cook” he narrated. I simply smiled and continued eating my food. I wasn’t going to let him spoil it for me.

I am of this notion that Love is inextricably linked with food. If you do not share this view I suppose it is because your grandma never prepared food for you to eat. Anyway, I am not here to talk about my grandma’s many exploits as a chef of choice.

As I begun doing recently, I am here to share experiences, not from a trotro today though, but from a……. lets call it “food joint” for lack of a proper classification.

This kind of food joint is very typical in Ghanaian society. They are scattered across the capital as well as regional capitals and big towns and cities in the country. They take the form of kiosks that are partially covered with mosquito nets and a square outlet of some sort in the front where the vendor can hand over food to her customers. In a few instances, the vendor has a long rectangular table almost the same length as the two benches it comes with, one on each side and if you’re lucky it is in an enclosed space. They also have all sorts of names; “Chop Better”, “Auntie Salamatou Special Waakye” and the like

The joint which I frequent every other day at work has no name. The woman works with a team of about five or so girls. One who dishes out food with her, two to serve dishes and to make sure the eating area is clean, one to wash dishes and maybe a couple more in the kitchen. She sells plain rice with stew, boiled yam with kontomire stew, (also referred to as palava sauce), kokonte with palm-nut or groundnut soup and banku with okra stew. All these come with boiled eggs, fried fish, tuna, meat and more; whichever you’d like to have it.

Today, I spotted all sorts of relationship dynamics at the joint. Not that it is the first time, just not as much…

There was this girl at the stand when I arrived. She was skinny and dark and wore a slightly oversized straight dress. She smiled at me and politely asked me to go first. I didn’t know why but I did anyway. As I was placing my order, I saw a mechanic come up to her and ask her name. She said nothing; she just stared at him. Then he went on to ask for her phone number bringing out his phone; it needed a rubber band to keep its contents together. He received the scolding of his life. When the woman finished serving my dish, this same girl who was angered by the mechanic only seeking to know her name offered to carry my food to the table seeing as the girls who were supposed to take the food to the table were nowhere to be found. “It’s alright” I said, taking it myself. I wasn’t going to let any stranger near my food.

I walked into the eating area to meet this grey-haired black man. I know how that sounds almost racist. It isn’t supposed to be.

I AM BLACK AND PROUD

But this man was DARK; he was almost the same colour as the black trousers I was wearing. It was the first time I had run into him at the joint but he appeared to be a regular, considering he knew all the girls by name. He was trying to pick up one of them as I walked in. She was all giggly till I walked in. He also went silent almost immediately. He was seated strategically so he could see everything and everyone that would come in through the door. I sat to his right.

There was a guy sitting to my right; Very well kept dreadlocks, jeans, V-necked Tee Shirt, and if I had to guess his shades were of the same quality as the Chinese replica of the iPhone 6 he was holding. He kept staring at this girl who was seated on the other side of the table. She was totally clad in denim. She wasn’t dressed in tight jeans as is typical of today’s Ghanaian girl. She appeared kind of tomboyish to me. It was as if she had borrowed her brother’s clothes. but who cares what I thought. “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” they say. Or does “beauty lie in the ice of the ‘beer holder'” I thought to myself as he staggered after her neglecting to finish his boiled yam. I didn’t think that would go well though.

Before she took off, she had received a phone call. Her countenance changed the second she saw the number on the caller ID. “Yes, why are you calling me?” she demanded angrily. “I am coming” she hung up, kissed her teeth and continued eating her food. I guess the dreadlocked guy missed all that or was probably confident about his chances. I hadn’t finished my meal so I wasn’t going to follow them to see how it went.

Safe to say it went well..?

The dark old man to my left hadn’t given up on the girls though. He tried again, this time on the girl who was supposed to be doing the dishes. “How are we spending the Easter” he asked. “y3 b3 k) kwahu anaa?”. She ignored the question and laughed. She whispered something to the other girl and they burst out laughing. The old man dipped his hand back in his bowl and continued eating his abete3, which was cold by then.

I had had enough. Besides I had a couple of meetings to attend.

The question I keep asking myself is this. Does food create the aura of love or do people go to food joints seeking love?

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