One of the reasons why Ghana won’t fight itself, this.
You can have all the political differences, football rivalry, NSMQ trolling and whether or not Asamoah Gyan should continue to take penalties but you can’t disagree on how this is a national treasure, no wonder its colour takes after gold.
They call it Kofi Brokeman but nothing fixes you better than two fingers or three of this delicacy on a hot Ghanaian afternoon. Ripe plantain roasted over a mild charcoal heat to soften to a golden yellow.
It can be a meal all on its own, or a desert, or what you’d call on to assist you make it to the “chop bar” just ahead. A very convenient travelling partner, not below the status of an air conditioned office and its occupant, the hawker’s energiser, the teacher’s break time engagement, the broke man’s saviour. Reaching all classes, accepted by all manner of persons, brokeman is a unifier, perhaps what the UN has been missing all this while.
Talk of the foods that can be smuggled into the lecture room and nibbled on even while lecture is ongoing, brokeman sits well among the biscuits and pastries, and even lately, a lot of college girls ditch the others for the brokeman, (attention: ladies you can date a broke man too).
But like an old man and his walking stick, you cannot enjoy brokeman without roasted groundnuts, naaa. These two are so compatible marriage counsellors use them as an example for newly wed couples. Once when I’d bought brokeman from one vendor, she wouldn’t let me put the groundnuts and the brokeman in the same polythene bag. She said the heat of the brokeman would “cook” the groundnut and that would make for a very unremarkable taste. “They are only to meet in your mouth”, she said.
What good counsel and revelation she gave, for it is true; when the groundnuts are softened by the heat of the brokeman, they simply lose some of its delight. By all means you must feel the hard nuts cracking against the soft tender insides of the brokeman as you musticate your way to glory. For that reason, I’ve kept the counsel of that competent brokeman vendor whom God is still blessing till today.
How you bring these two to a grand convocation in the mouth is also varied in its execution. There are basically three varieties of approach. You could throw the groundnuts in the mouth first, tilting the head a little backwards then add a bite of the brokeman. Or, you do the reverse of the first approach; a bite of the brokeman followed by the groundnuts. And the last one, which I prefer, you stamp the groundnuts with the soft insides of the brokeman so they get attached like a magnet. Here, both get to go in at the same time.
A good brokeman cannot be too hard nor too soft. The best plantains that make the best brokemans thus are the ones which have only begun to ripe or are ripened but have not gone so far as to enter the rotting stage. Such ripe and too soft plantains have no place near the grills upon which brokeman is roasted. And that is why other meals like gob3, aklaklo and kelewele exists.
One of the problems I have with brokeman however, is that when you’re in a commercial vehicle, you face a dilemma as to how you could conveniently handle the groundnuts in such a way that they do not escape your grasp, because these nuts have that stubborn nature of hiding in the corners of the polythene bag making them hard to reach, or falling from your grasp all together and rolling in the vehicle you’re in. But, this would be no problem at all as soon as we introduce the usage of “take-away” packs to the roadside serving of brokeman.
And as you know, you can never have brokeman without a sachet of water nearby. As my Asante folks would say, “ɛgye nsuo”, to wit, “it collects water”, or in a layman’s term it simply makes you thirsty. Brokeman truly has a way of making the throat dry and as a result craving for water afterwards. But all of this adds to the satisfying uniqueness of KB, especially when what follows after consuming it is one good and loud belch.