Wednesday, August 02, 2006
The food we eat
Before we left people kept asking what the food would be like, we really had no idea. We had read about Cameroonian food in books but it changes in different regions and times of year etc. So for I have enjoyed most the food, some very bizarre stuff has been presented to us and some of it actually tasted OK. We do not have a fridge so the girls have to go out everyday to buy supplies. Sheila (the youngest of the sisters) is usually sent. Vegetables are bulk bought on a Tuesday at the market but all other stuff is on a day to day basis from the local stalls and shops. Packaged, processed stuff is very expensive so mostly avoided. To cook on we have a two ring gas stove. Gas is expensive so to save money the outdoor wood stove is sometimes used.
Hear are some examples of meals.
Breakfast: Mostly bread if we are lucky we get an omlette sometimes made with mixed in spaghetti. We have had pancakes, one day filled with carrot and fish, not my favorite but most the time just plain. We have also had the gloopy liquid stuff made from crushed corn which is nice but very strange. Its eaten with deep fried bread balls which are yummy. We sometimes have avocado or pear as they call it which is delicious.
Lunch: The main and only real meal of the day. We usually wonder back from the office about 2pm and by about 3pm we are starving and have lunch. Spicy beans and rice must be the best we have had so far. Lots of fish, almost everyday. Joe is not too keen on the fish bones. Chicken is an expensive rarity and we love it. We have had fufu a couple of times. This is made from mushed up cocoyam which is then molded in to a sausage shape and boiled. Fufu is eaten with something like okra soup and used instead of cutlery. It is not chewed and just swallowed in chunks. The scariest meal we have had was mushed up yam wrapped in yam leaves then boiled. It actually tasted OK but we had no electricity and it was getting dark so could not see or figure our what we were eating. We have had groundnut (Peanut) soup which was nice and not too peanutty. Food is sometimes quite spicy which we like. The chillies that they mostly buy are scotch bonnets!!
Potatoes, plantain and rice are the main carbs we eat. Mostly boiled, we have had plantain and potato chips (the potato chips were actually at breakfast!) Lots of things seem to be made with pounded mushed up yam or cocoyam. Everything is cooked in lots of oil so I do not think I will be really skinny when we get home.
For desert we have fruit. Pawpaw, banana, delicious pineapple, melon, grapefruit and this horrible plum things. Nothing like plum as we know it. The stone is really big, purple skin and white stuff inside. They are boiled and I really do not like them. Joe eats them but does not really enjoy them, Jeff happily consumes my share for me.
Our supper is mostly bread. the bakery down the road (the one we were going to be living behind) makes lush baguettes so we often have these. We also have pancakes and sometimes popcorn.
To drink we have mostly water. The tap water in the house is treated so we decided to try drinking it to save money and waste, so far so good!! We have tea, I brought some left over teabags but the local tea is nice too. Although we have to use powdered milk which is not so great. As a treat we have Top. This is a grapefruit flavored fizzy pop and is very refreshing.
For snacks we buy stuff of roadside stall or people carrying stuff on their heads. Joe has peanuts and we have plantain crisps, cakes and biscuit type things. In the house a treat is this mushed up yam stuff. It is wrapped up in palm leaves when it is sold and stored. Then unwrapped and eaten. They are long chewing snake like things and not really that nice.
So far we have not had to do much cooking as the sisters are here to help after the birth of the baby. As they all go home we will be more involved in the kitchen, well cooking is a girls job so they may not let Joe help. So far I have been helping a little chopping veggies and stuff.
All in all we have eaten pretty well, other than those minging plum things there has been nothing I cannot eat. I have been eating my carrots (this will not continue in the UK) and thankfully there has been no sign of mince. If we can get the ingredients we will try to show that family what we eat in England. As time goes by I may update you on the highs (and lows) of Cameroonian cuisine.