Last night Suzanne and I went for pizza in the neighboring town Aburi. Aburi is a historic town where the early Methodists settled because it was high in elevation, the nights cool, and the mosquitoes few. The first three Methodist missionaries had died quickly when they arrived at Cape Coast in the 1830s, each dying a few months into their stay, prompting the locals to write back England, “Our missionary has died, please send another.”
Those early missions were macabre affairs, arriving on empty slaving ships, with their belongings backed in coffins. Their passage was one way. But in Aburi, the mission thrived, and today it is quirky little town, with a place that has the reputation of serving good pizza.
It is about 30 minutes of washed out mud roads to Aburi, so we don’t often go that way. Unfortunately, we leave after dark, and that always makes navigation a challenge since there are no street lights, and it is rainy season, which makes it feel like we’re living in a cloud of humidity. Visibility is limited so the goal is to stay on the dirt road, while avoiding people/livestock and steer between potholes. And still we go.
With the promise of good pizza (or as our anthropologist adoptive daughter Nora would say, to have our cultural preferences reflected back to us), it feels good to get off campus and leave the Ashesi bubble. Almost without exception the villages outside Accra do not have street signs, or house numbers. Accra has just enough that you can’t say they don’t have them, they just don’t have many. Aburi has none, it is very dark (no street lights), all we have is the small town map of Aburi from the Bradt Guide. Navigating to where Peter’s Pizza should be, and then drive right past it. No sign board.
We turn Rhino around, stop and ask. Call. Suzanne is amazing, just going along with the adventure. I’m trying to navigate by smell, thinking I should be able to smell pizza if we can get close enough. I’m still thinking of a proper pizza place, checkered table cloths, salad bar… Years ago we would have been freaking out, or given up and gone to Subway…oh wait, there isn’t one in West Africa. So we park Rhino, get out and start asking around when we hear “Are you looking for Peter’s Pizza?” a voice asks from behind us. “I’m Peter. Follow me!” He was just walking around, and now with us in pursuit, sets off at a quick pace down the dark street we had just driven.
Apparently it is much easier to find during the daytime (image borrowed from panoramio.com)
Peter’s Pizza is a small room built up is on stilts, overhanging the side of a mountain. In between it and the next building is a long walkway of steps down to a housing compound. Inside there are four plastic chairs, two tables, and without lights but for a TV, and a candle. On the walls I recognize pictures of famous African Americans, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and others. “My pizza has green beans, spring onions, and carrot,” Peter says, explaining the only item on the menu, “and comes in small, medium and large and made fresh” He pauses “Do you have time?”
“Sure,” Suzanne says, looking at me. She is here for the adventure, and I am reminded how much I love that about her. Even as we are
ordering selecting a size — we really don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into, but we’re in it together and where else do we have to be on a Friday night? Peter lights the charcoal and then fans the fire to life. He begins making the sauce, and slicing vegetables. The dough comes from the fridge, but the fridge doesn’t close all the way, so there is continuous cloud of cold vapor leaking out. The kitchen is dark but for a candle, so I’m not always sure what he is doing.
Peter is very entertaining. He tells stories of his adventures as a sea-man, a cook for large cargo ships, but he doesn’t swim. He is afraid of being in the water, but not on it. When his ship was in Italy for repairs, he learned the craft of making pizza.
Two hours later, our pizza arrives. It is hot, but more importantly, it passes the limp test. A slice of thin crust pizza should be able to stand out straight, and not fall limp when held by the crust. Peter’s Pizza is delicious. It isn’t until the morning (when I am having cold pizza for breakfast—yummy!) that I realize the cheese was yellow.
The Best Pizza in Ghana from Peter’s Pizza, Aburi
In the 1960s, my mother used to make the best pizza long before it was popular in the Midwest. She used the Appian Way Box Pizza Kit, infused some of her magic, and covered it with yellow cheese—just like Peter. The next day I think about my mother all day and her wonderful pizza wishing she was here to make it.
We will be back for Peter’s Pizza, but next time we’ll call ahead. Way ahead.
Before driving to Aburi, call Peter: 0277 435774. In old town off the main road, buy your drinks and plead to take them with you to Peter’s.