Is the cuisine a contributing factor to shorter lifespans in Cameroon?
03.04.2013 - 07.04.2013 24 °C
First, I need to respond to questions about whether I do any actual volunteering or just take trips out of town … yes, I am working for an organization called Youth Business Cameroon that promotes and supports youth entrepreneurship. I would direct you to their website, but I am currently creating a new site for the organization, and it is not yet live.
That said, this is a post about food. I have been eating well despite the difficulties of being a vegetarian in Cameroon. At least they are familiar with the concept here. I am very fortunate that two of the other Humanity Exchange volunteers in Douala are also vegetarian so I’m not the only one! We are quite lucky at the orphanage because Maman Simone is a very good cook. The children usually eat only once per day, and I’m not sure how they manage but it seems to be the norm here. The volunteers are provided two meals per day – breakfast and supper. The other vegetarian who lives at the orphanage (Sonja) and I both eat fish to make it easier for our family. I have eaten more fish in the last six weeks than in my entire life previous to this trip. A common way to prepare fish here is poisson braisé – grilled whole. I have become quite adept at eating the whole fish without choking on any of the bones but have not (and will not) eat the head.
Other typical Cameroonian dishes I have eaten are ndole, which is a stew of African spinach, ground peanuts, onions and dried fish; batons de manioc and the smaller version called miondo; plantain prepared various ways but especially fried; and macabo, which is a tuber that is grated and then steamed in banana leaves. Escargot on skewers (very chewy), brochettes (meat skewers), and poisson braisé are commonly sold in bars.
The diet is pretty heavy on palm oil. Beignets (doughnuts) are a common street food, either sweetened, eaten with spicy baked beans, or, my favourite - made with banana in the batter. In summary, if the motos don’t kill you the saturated fat will eventually do the job.
Beer is sold in enormous bottles for about $1.50. There are several big breweries here. You can buy small plastic sachets of cheap whisky at the side of the road for about 30 cents but in nightclubs imported whisky is purchased by the bottle for around $70 per bottle.
I just paid a guy in the street 10 cents to weigh myself using the bathroom-type scale he was carrying. Who knew that such a service existed? It seems I have lost a couple of pounds but alas, I attribute this to the constant profuse sweating.
Here are some photos of the food here. Bon appétit!