Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Food - Glorious Food

Food in a new country is always interesting.  In fact, part of my sightseeing in a new place usually includes the grocery store.  I want to see it all, taste it all and experience a new culture through the food.  My tastes are not always adventurous, but overall, I am willing to try, with trepidation, the new foods that I find appealing (although I tend to draw a line with those food products which include  eyes and yucky parts).  

In Cameroon, the food has been a bit baffling to me.  Some days, I think that it is SO hard to find what I want and I crave the comforts of home.  Other days, especially when we eat in a restaurant, I am amazed at the variation and incredible taste of everything I have eaten.   

So, I continue in my quest to locate the products that I enjoy.  In the process, I think that I have been to every grocery store in our part of Douala.  Our driver is funny.  He will say, "Madam, there's another one." and I'll always say, "Let's stop!".   I have visited a small Indian grocery with fragrant spices, a Lebanese grocer for pita bread, an Arabic shop where I found tahini and Worcestershire sauce, Super U (the newest and greatest for expensive cheese and produce), Leader Price (baking goods),  Commercial (cleaning products) and our local grocery, Casino, which has a bit of everything.  I have also found a good French bakery (croissants) and two good butchers, which are impressive.  I am still looking for a good place to buy fish, especially a location that will fillet them for me first.  :)   Even with all these selections, I have an entire page of items that can't seem to be found here.   My next suitcase coming back to Douala will include Rotel, jalapeƱos, Peanut Butter and chocolate chips!     A sweet co-worker of Charles' recently came to Douala from the USA and she kindly brought me Ritz Crackers, Pancake Mix, Pancake syrup and plastic baggies, which were all worth their weight in gold!     

**Side note - Many of the grocery stores (along with other stores locally) close for a lunch break between 12:30pm and 3:30 pm.   To clarify, this means that if I go to the store at 12:20 pm, I have 10 minutes to get my food and get out since they CLOSE. THE. DOORS at 12:30 and DO.NOT.OPEN again until 3:30pm.   I am amazed at the practice that the entire store needs to take a three hour break all at the same time, every single day.   The newest grocery store - Super U - stays open during this time.  My guess is that 12:30 to 3:30pm will be the busiest time of the day for them!    

In addition, I enjoy shopping at the local fruit and vegetable markets.  Normally the produce is cheaper, fresher and higher quality than the grocery stores.   However, my first visit was to an enclosed shop with a dirt floor.   The tiny shop was smelly with a poor selection and even worse quality.  I left with a few onions and thought I needed another option.   My second visit confirmed my initial opinion with produce that I wouldn't eat, much less purchase.  I tried a few other enclosed stands and decided that the open air markets were a much better option.

So today, I found a great little vegetable stand, not far from our house.  The fruit and veggies were the best that I have found in Cameroon, and I was so pleased.  

Like in Nigeria, everything that comes into our house is cleaned well, then soaked in either a vinegar or a bleach solution for 15 to 20 minutes.  Items are then rinsed with bottled water and dried.  Even the eggs go through the same treatment and all canned goods are wiped down before putting them away.

The pineapples are some of the best I have ever eaten - sweet and juicy.   If you look closely, you will see that the stalk is still on the bottom of the pineapple and it is freshly cut.  

I've discovered that frozen brussel sprouts are plentiful and make an easy to prepare green vegetable. Tony Cashere's seasoning along with a splash of olive oil make them tasty! 

Tonight we decided to try beets.  Mixing them with potatoes was not a good idea!  

Petit a petit, we will figure it out.  In the meantime, we are learning more about the local products - while trying to mix it with the comforts of home.  

No comments: