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I've been having a great time checking out Nashville's high end dining on the cheap thanks to Groupon. Have you tried it yet? Its awesome. I don't know why I ever hesitated.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How to accidentally give someone a wedding present

We've arrived safe and sound in Ghana. We're still searching out accommodation, but we are temporarily lodging with my friend Victor "the maven." To disabuse any of you out there of your National Geographic ideas of Africa, the Maven is addicted to cutting edge technologies and fashions. He had an iPhone two weeks after they came out in the US and was one of the first who had it "cracked" to work in Ghana. He possesses several iPods. So we are not suffering in our current living situation. We even get more TV channels at his house than we do in our condo in Chicago!

But you want to know about food and Ghanaian culture, so here's a funny thing that happened to me within 24 hours of landing. I managed to accidentally give one of our friends a wedding present. To make matters worse, it is a present that is supposed to come from her mother. And to make it all more, she is not getting married.

For as long as I've been coming to Ghana you'd think I would have gotten completely proficient at all the social intricacies, but I am constantly confronted by situations that I don't know precisely how to handle. When returning from abroad, gifts are customary for close friends. When I first came to Ghana in 2000, my study abroad program recommended bringing trinkets that were affiliated with our home city, so I duly brought a picture frame that featured many of Chicago's famous attractions. But as I have returned over the years, my relationships with people have deepened. And like the second Christmas with a serious boyfriend, I constantly confront the problem of what to get people when you have already given them at least one "good" gift.

Gifts are real hit or miss in Ghana, which is funny because I believe my friends back home consider me quite the consummate gift giver. But I can never predict what will happen here in Ghana. I once gave a wind chime of angels to my Ghanaian "mother" and was quite convinced she would like it for its spirituality. I presented the wrapped package to her at Christmas and then chased her around the house waiting for her to open it. Apparently in Ghana you don't open the gift in front of the giver, because the recipient is not expected to feign delight. I also gave her a vegetable peeler that she has never used, because she spent her whole life peeling veggies with a knife.

This time around, kitchen-minded as I am, I decided pots was a good gift. High quality, thick pots are hard to come by in Ghana, and are expensive. This seemed like an ideal gift that my friend would actually be able to use and appreciate. Plus she is about to finish school and so she hasn't set up her own kitchen fully yet. I eagerly presented my gift to her this evening. She started giggling. Her first comment was, "Maybe now I will also find the man."

And this is how I inadvertently gave my Ghanaian friend the wedding present (pots) that is supposed to come only from her mother.

Thanks to everyone who wished us well on our travels! Stay tuned for more Skinny Gourmet in Ghana. And don't worry, I've tucked away a few recipe posts that are appropriate for those of you who will soon be suffering through Midwestern winter.

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