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Local Eats: Abeshi Ghanaian Cuisine brings a taste of West Africa to West Michigan

MUSKEGON, MI – Abeshi Ghanaian Cuisine presents a slice of Tacitus Bailey-Yabani’s culture to customers in West Michigan.

Bailey-Yabani moved to Muskegon from Ghana seven years ago. In 2018, he won StartGarden’s 5X5 Night competition to launch his food truck, which offers “what I grew up with and what my grandma used to cook for me,” Bailey-Yabani said.

Abeshi presents food inspired by West African cooking — recipes that are “very close to my heart,” Bailey-Yabani said.

The word abeshi means “I’m here.”

Crossing from West Africa to West Michigan, Bailey-Yabani uses “abeshi” to chronicle his relocation, finding a home here as a restaurant owner and father of two. He calls his 5-year-old son and nearly 2-year-old daughter the first “tasters” of his new dishes.

During the summer, the food truck delivers the Ghanaian dishes throughout West Michigan. In the colder months, Bailey-Yabani pivots the business, cooking out of his Muskegon home and offering takeout and delivery.

On a snowy December day, Bailey-Yabani prepared a big pot of groundnut stew to fulfill a slate of orders.

“Soup is delicious,” he said. With the stew’s garlic, onion, ginger, tomatoes, peanut butter and Ghanaian dawadawa spices, Bailey-Yabani says it’s a good remedy for Michigan winters.

“In Africa, you don’t see snow; you see sunsets, rain, beautiful beaches,” he said.

Ghanaian cuisine is centered around rice dishes served with a sauce or soup. Bailey-Yabani uses these as building blocks, adapting the menu as he finds inspiration.

Some staples include a signature red-red bean stew, a spicy tomato-based soup served with fried plantains, and jollof rice, a flavorful blend of spices, tomatoes and vegetables.

“I’m trying to bridge our culture and our heritage,” he says of the recipes.

The key to Ghanaian food, according to Bailey-Yabani, is a plentiful mix of ingredients.

Abeshi features some cross-cultural dishes to make the cuisine more familiar to West Michiganders, using West African inspiration in tacos, burritos and nachos. Bailey-Yabani recently created a red-red bean style quesadilla he plans to serve on the food truck this summer.

Abeshi Ghanaian Cuisine accepts orders by phone, 231-855-6002, Wednesday through Saturday. Current offerings can be found on its Facebook page.

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