Growing up, picnics were my all-time favourite event. There was always an abundance of food and an entire day spent with aunties, uncles, and cousins that I did not necessarily get to see all that often.
Picnics were a time to remind ourselves that our families extended well beyond our nuclear family; beyond our blood relatives, and beyond our immediate neighbours. They reminded us that the word family was extended to all the people we met at our schools, places of worship, hairdressers, favourite African grocery stores.
We moved around a lot in my early years. When re-locating, it can be hard to find your bearings, especially as a kid, but these picnics and gatherings helped my family and I establish ourselves as part of our new community and build a circle of people we admired, trusted, and loved.
My mother has loved cooking and catering for as long as I can remember so it would always be up to her to bring a large proportion of the food we ate at these picnics. As West Africans, we expected that there would always be a delicious rice and stew dish that parents knew would appease even the pickiest children. More often than not, it would be my mom’s.
On the menu, there would always also be soup served with starch like fufu or rice balls plus finger snacks like bofrot (Ghanaian doughnuts), rock buns (similar to scones), nkate cake (peanut brittle) or fried plantain, known as kelewele.
Kelewele is essentially spiced fried plantain that is chopped into smaller pieces for crispy edges all around. When perfectly seasoned, its sweet, spicy, and savoury flavours make it quite addicting. Because kelewele was present at almost every gathering, just one bite gives me a sense of nostalgia that brings me right back to the sense of community I experienced at my childhood picnics.
These days, I make it myself but what can I say, my mother makes it the best! Hope you enjoy!