Meet Ama Mintah, the woman who cooks in earthenware bowls only
You probably enjoy 3to (mashed plantain), apem and kontonmire or some fufu with some light soup served and garnished in an earthen pot, what we locally call the ‘Asanka’; but you would want to learn the rather intriguing story of Ama Mintah, a Ghanaian who developed the concept of cooking in an earthenware as a way of ‘saving herself’ and others from a disease she could have avoided if she had discovered this secret a bit earlier.
Ghanaweb caught up with Ama who was promoting her ‘Dandelion kitchen’ at the Folklore extravaganza event Wednesday August 22, and got fascinated by her story.
She narrates that she was diagnosed with a disease about some 5 years ago and doctors told her the cause is the high level of aluminum in her body. The aluminum which was caused by her constant cooking in aluminum pots, what we locally call the ‘silver’.
“A few years ago, I was diagnosed with aluminum calcification which basically meant that I had a lot of aluminum in me which was leading to cancer so I had to have a change of lifestyle. The disadvantage was that I couldn’t remove it from me but I could stop it from continuing and one way I could solve that was by cooking in the earthen pot because anytime you cook in the aluminum pot, you eat some of it and that’s very risky especially the big ‘dadesen’ (pot) that people cook in, you can imagine the amount of aluminum that’s going into it,” she said.
Ama Mintah who has been doing this for five years says she enjoys what she does especially because it helps keep people healthy and happy.
“What we do is that we cook healthy in the earthen pots and we research on how to cook food so that it is healthy for the human organs”.
“My target audience are the young people because I want to create a niche, I want to make it fun, normally you would realise that people think when you cook in the earthen pot it’s for aesthetics. I come in to tell you that, it’s scientifically proven that when you cook in the earthen ware, you live longer and your food is richer than cooking in the aluminum pots and that’s why I encourage people to cook in earthen pots. Earthen pots are made from clay and that’s the same thing we are made up of so that’s just a clue that there’s something just not going well with this aluminum thing” she noted.
Ama recounted her journey in this business, detailing how difficult it was in the very early stages and how she persevered because of her utmost aim of doing something helpful for society and the world. Now, a proud Ama is able to boast of a kitchen where solely local foods are prepared; ‘banku’, ‘yakayaka’, ‘okro soup’ and served healthy in the earthenware.
“Most of the dieticians in this country are pushing for people to go on a healthy diet. The disadvantage is that they are making people eat so many foreign foods that we don’t even know about. So you realise that the Ghanaians start and they are not very consistent with keeping up with that diet so what I do is I research about the normal diets that we have; the ‘kenkey’s’, the ‘banku’s’, the ‘yakayaka’s’ the ‘abolo’s’, the local foods basically. And I research on how to make it healthy, fun and easy for you to eat. We only use the local, traditional foods but if you want the foreign ones, that I can do even more but I like to encourage people so if you eat this way, even in your home you can teach your wife so it becomes a wholistic lifestyle” she noted.
Adding, “At the beginning, it was very difficult for me to cook in the earthenware because most of the meals, I was socialized for the aluminium pots so it came easy with me but once I became used to the earthen pot, I do my banku, yakayaka, okro soup, stew, everything in the earthen pot. I even fry eggs, you’d be shocked that in the beginning, eggs were my number one challenge because I couldn’t get the eggs to be flat in the traditional pots we do the medicines in but eventually when I met with the women who do the earthen pots, it’s been a long journey where we keep trying the best surfaces for food and now we even fry eggs”.
Ama Mintah however mentioned that she works on woodwork and helps in pottery also.
“As a kitchen, we have three areas that we push. It’s a kitchen so people normally call us, doctors also recommend us for their patients so every day we cook for a certain group of people so it’s a special diet kitchen as well. We make doors and wooden stuff too and we help the women who do the pots and sell them”.