Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Doit Bien Manger

So a few weeks ago I decided that it might be fun to keep a food diary in Cameroon. What, when, and how people eat is really an integral part of culture and it’s definitely something that I want to remember when I get back to the United States. Not to mention my experience here has strongly contradicted the stereotypical picture of starving Africans, but when I try to explain that to people at home it’s hard for them to conceptualize what I mean when I say things like “heaping plates of food.” So here is a small taste of mealtime in Cameroon.

A typical breakfast includes a huge baguette, which occasionally has off-brand nutella inside, and some kind of beverage. I’ve actually become a big fan of warm milk in the morning – don’t judge, it’s delicious!

Lunchtime varies widely depending on the day. In Dschang I tended to buy individual items from street vendors, but in Yaoundé I almost always go to a restaurant. Most days I eat a delicious and filling lunch for less than $2. (Sorry there’s no pics, but it would be awkward to take a snapshot in a restaurant.)

Afterschool I usually grab something small from a street vendor on my way home. My personal favorite is a little bag of sugared peanuts. I use the nuts to convince myself that it’s a good source of protein, but really it’s just because they are yummy. Plus at 25CFA, it only costs five cents. Can you get anything in the United States for a nickel?

Dinner is typically eaten late, like 9:30 or 10:00pm. A big change from 5:00 meals at Phelps. The reason it’s late is because sometimes there are two dinners: one around 4:00pm and the other just before bed. I’m not really interested in eating four huge meals a day, so I generally opt out of the first dinner. Rice, pasta, and fish are staples here, which is good because I like all of those things. What changes the meal is the sauce or the other things that go with it. 

Koki and Potates (traditional Bamiléké dish)  
Couscous and pistachio sauce
Chicken Before
Chicken After - a direct violation of the "Don't see it before I eat it" rule.
Fish and Manioc (a root vegetable kind of like a potato but not really)
Okok and Manioc (looks a little funky, but tastes soooo goood!)
Beans and Manioc (so yeah, some stuff shows up over and over)
Rice and "Sauce d'Arachides" which is one of my favorite dishes.
Rice, fish, and vegetables = delicious!

Also, for anyone who is keeping track here is an update on the list of things I didn’t like (or had never tried) before coming to Cameroon but have since learned to at least tolerate… Coca-cola, Pineapple, Couscous, Sauce d’Arachides, Avocados, Plantains, Fish with bones, Koki, Potates, and Manioc.


  1. When you were a baby, you loved new foods and I see that has come back in your "old age". Wow eating food right before going to bed....opposite of everything they tell you here. I am delighted that you like avocados. Just wait till you have my new Salmon and avocado salad when you come home! Enjoy your time in the new part of the country.....praying for your family to be awesome!
    Love you! Mom

  2. Just remember:
    "It's the best I've ever had, I wish I had more!"
    Lv Dad