Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Little Things

The food finally got to me. In general the food is not that bad, but after a while certain food items start to get to you. The typical dishes are starch based with a salty vegetable or meat sauce. The starches are based on corn, cassava, potatos, or yams. These can be boiled and served as is, or transformed into interesting dishes such as cous cous or eru. Last night for dinner I had cous cous du mais which is corn based mush balls. It isn't horrible, but the consistency is like a combination of jello and mashed potatos. This can become a chore to eat after a while. The worst part about it is that even if you have a pretty tasty sauce or meat side, the cous cous sticks around long after the sauce passes through your mouth. Last night I had to feed new spoonfuls of sauce into my mouth with every bite as the mushy cous cous stuck around caking my tongue.

Most meat dishes can be hit or miss. Fish is generally good but boney. If you are near the cost the fish tends to taste better. For example I had the best fish I've had in the past few years in Douala, a port town, which was grilled to perfection and served with an awesome peanut based spicy sauce. However the further you travel north the longer it takes fish to get to you, and these fish aren't traveling in perfectly cooled big mac trucks. Beef is supposedly really good in the north but I have yet to try it. Here in the central region it can be decent but usually they do not cut off the chunks of fat. If you get the street meat variety which is cooked in a little grill stand in busier sections of town it is usually a bit tough. Chicken can be found American style and the only goat or porc I have found was from street vendors (though I did find some decent goat soup in the South West).

American style food can be found in major cities or you can just make it on your own. There are milkshakes, french fries, pizza, and cheeseburgers in the big cities of Yaounde and Buea and I have heard of good chinese food in Douala. The cheeseburger I had tasted like a cheap fast food burger from America, but here that is comfort food.

Religion is a central part of Cameroonian culture. There are many Christian denominations, a bunch of local religions practiced by the ethnic populations, and muslims. Most Cameroonians go to church once a week, and if they don't then they probably at least pray before each meal. There isn't any resentment between any religion and everyone seems to get along fine. Christians and Muslims might stereotype each other but everything seems to be kosher.