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 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.