Taste the World

When we go grocery shopping here in town, I’m always struck by what seems to be food from all parts of the world. It’s true that most of the packaged food here comes from France, and there are also locally made products on the shelves. However, it does appear to me that, in some way, Cameroon is kind of like an outlet store for the rest of the world’s food.

I’ve found pasta written mostly in Greek, oatmeal from the UAE, breakfast cereal from Germany, Pringles intended for sale in the Middle East (ironically made in the USA). Many of these products are dual labeled in English and Arabic, or another combination of languages.

I don’t know if my assumptions are true, but I do know that finding “Alexandrian Liver” flavored Kellogg’s instant noodles from Egypt, which I’ve never seen before in this same store — and may never see again, makes me wonder how they ended up here.

Les Chenilles

One morning, a few weeks ago, we went outside and sat at our new picnic table. At that time, it was under a tree. It was a nice location since the tree provided shade against the tropical sun.

However, that morning we noticed a number of caterpillars (chenilles) all over the table. We brushed them off and sat down at the table. Then a caterpillar fell from the tree and landed near Eila.  Hrm. And these just weren’t any little caterpillars, these were large (2-3 inch) black ones with yellow spikes.

We started to move them into a bucket we had around. Remembering that I’ve seen similar caterpillars live in the open air markets here in Cameroon, I brought the few we had collected to the guard at our compound and asked if he would want them. “Well, yes, but there’d have to be more”, he said to us (in French) — but he would stop by at the end of his shift and pick up what we had.

So we went back and noticed that more had fallen from the tree above. We scooped those up into the bucket. Soon, every time we went by there were more caterpillars to be collected and by the end of the morning, we had quite a number writhing in the bottom of our bucket.

We ended up with more than this.

At the end of the day, the guard stopped by and we gave what we had in the bucket to the guard in a baggie.

The next day we asked him how they were , and he said they were very delicious. His son knew how to prepare them, and they are them with tomato, garlic, and lots and lots of piment (hot sauce).

We’re glad someone could use them.



Cameroonian Lunches

As a follow up to the post on Njama njama, here are some of the other Cameroonian lunches we’ve enoyed.  The first is Ndolé.  It is a bitter green cooked with a peanut sauce/paste and various meats or fish.  This one is with beef.  It comes from the Littoral (coastal) region near Douala.  It’s considered the national dish of Cameroon.  It’s traditionally served with boiled plantains. Here’s more information.


Another dish is Poulet DG (Chicken of the Director General).  It’s chicken with sauce served with plaintains in the sauce.  This is a pretty normal dish by western standards being like any braised chicken dish.  Very tasty.

Chicken DG

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Njama njama

As part of our orientation for newcomers to the Cameroon branch, we are provided lunch.  We’re on our third week (of three) of the orientation.  They started us out on familiar meals like pizza, tacos, and spaghetti.  However, now that we’re in the third week they have been introducing lots of Cameroonian dishes (Note: I need to catch up on posting some others we’ve had already).

Today for lunch we had Njama njama with corn fufu and Kati kati (smoked chicken).  Njama njama is the greens, and corn fufu is basically thick polenta or grits.  It was delicious.  A few people here have mentioned njama njama to us (plus it’s easy to remember with a name like that) as something particularly tasty in the local dishes here.  Altough, it’s not really local to Yaoundé, it comes from the english-speaking Northwest region.

Also, they didn’t give us cutlery for this lunch, as you eat with you hands using the corn fufu as something to “dip” into the greens with, i.e. your spoon.  Also, you must only eat with your right hand as your left is reserved for “dirtier” purposes.  For me, as a lefty, it’s a bit awkward at first.

Njama njama, corn fufu, and kati kati.

Bit of corn fufu in a little ball.


Then together with the njama njama and eat.

Highly recommended next time you are in Cameroon.  We also got a demonstration in the kitchen for how to make it.  It didn’t see too difficult.  Here’s a recipe for you to make it yourself.