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2005-10-18 - 9:57 a.m.
I've been enjoying the contrast of bright orange palm berries on the dark gray, rain-soaked sidewalks the past two mornings. Autumn in Southern California. Yet I've never really noticed them before.
They've reminded me of the oily palm-fruit (or palm-nut) "soup" that I sampled only once or twice in Ghana. More common though, were the many dishes that would be served up out of a giant kettle with a thick layer of rich, red palm oil floating on top. The kitchen ladies would scoop some of the black-eyed beans ("cowpeas") onto the white rice and then, in their generosity, ladle on top more of the oil that to them was the richest part of the meal. I'd forgotten until I just did a web search that this bean stew is called "red-red." Palm oil everywhere: in the spinach-like (kontomire) "palaver sauce" served with a thick fish steak and sliced boiled yams; in the goat soup that I tried only once, served up with a ball of starchy, sticky pounded "fufu."
I bought a can of palm-fruit from an online import store (called something like "Afro-Mart") a few years ago. It sat on the shelf until well after the expiration date, unused, and I finally threw it out, guiltily, when I moved.
The palm berries on the sidewalk have tempted me. Maybe I'll order another can and use it this time.
Sigh: I've been back more than ten years...
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