Yes, that’s a yam you see yonder.
My original plan was to commemorate the Uruguay-South Korea match by turning pasta, for which Uruguayans feel amore, with the trusty Korean stir-fry sauce in an homage to fried rice. U.S.-Ghana was to be represented by yam-peanut pancakes, which I may have to tackle some other time.
It will be explained below how things got out of hand. The out-of-handness of things makes it possible to turn to Ghana’s hiplife movement for a compilation album, Black Stars (listen) (details about album). The album name is in turn appropriate to the occasion, as Black Stars is also the name of Ghana’s football (soccer for us Americans) team. It is these confluences of influences that allow me to get through the day, also to consume so many yams.
Let’s start by breaking up some sobe noodles and boiling them into submission. While sobe are technically Japanese, they are loosely what I had in the house. My unwillingness to haul myself to the store for ingredients is going to figure heavily in this story.
Like this dish is going to be, Ghanaian hiplife is a fusion of a fusion. The story starts with highlife, an early 20th century local musical idiom that spread throughout West Africa. Highlife is a Jazz Age movement with a Jazz Age sound, running to trumpets and guitars (admittedly eschewing the more usual Jazz Age ukelele–but it’s a long way from Polynesia to Ghana).
By now you’re wondering what’s in that freezer container. I knew I was going to put shrimp in the pasta and wanted something else. That something ought to have been chorizo, but Phoenix is in the part of the Southwest known as “south shore of Lake Erie,” so finding chorizo would require hauling myself to a Mexican market. Going through the freezer, I found a mystery container. It seems to be the filling for the Argentina-Nigeria empanadas.
Well, why not?
What hiplife does is add African drums and reggae rhythms to highlife. What I do is heat some peanut oil and add the Mystery Mix, about half a can of tiny shrimp, and some peas. Well, rather a lot of peas. Stir, stir, stir FRY!
Add the noodles. Stir, stir, stir FRY!
Push the food to the edges of the pan to make room at the center. Add an egg. I stuck to one egg because I never like eggs as much as I think I will. Fry the egg until it’s curdish (but not Kurdish), then mix everything together again and add the secret weapon ingredient: the Korean stir-fry sauce! Stir, stir, stir FRY!
Should you be wondering what language is being rapped in, that’s mostly Twi (as opposed to twee). It’s the most common language in Ghana and the one most used for hiplife. (The official language of Ghana is English.)
This turns out to be two servings, but I’d already plated it, and an advantage of living alone is that I can eat what I want and then wrap the rest. So doth privacy make oafs of us all.
As well as the original Uruguay-Korea mix, we have yams for Ghana. What makes it American? It’s a melting pot. And it tastes quite good, even if it’s a little odd to bite into a raisin and a pea at the same time. But I’ll tell you the secret to making odd mixes like this taste good: pretend it’s Indonesian.