Cameroonian fast food

(I can't believe a year has passed since I've returned to Canada. I've now been back for longer than I was out there. But Cameroon has left an indelible mark on my memory, and I still have some stories to share, though I suppose they've gotten rusty, lost some details, and accrued others, in the interim. Not going to stop just yet, though.)

Cameroon roadside fast food beats North American drive-thru flat.

Suya, affectionately known as "typhoid-on-a-stick, is sliced meat (usually beef or chicken, but it's perhaps best not to ask) doused in spicy sauce, roasted on a spit over a roadside flame. Mmmm. Depending on the location and the vendor, consuming suya may produce anything from a warm glow to fire in the mouth. The typhoid moniker refers to the fact that these tasty treats may have been roasted hours earlier, then loosely wrapped in a dirty piece of stiff paper, and waved under the noses of every passerby in the dusty street, and made available for inspection by every curious fly. But, delicious -- this is my idea of living dangerously.

Roasted plaintains. A staple of Cameroonian fast food. Also delicious. They do have a tendency to be dry after sitting on the grill all day, waiting for someone to take them up, but who can argue with a plaintain. They nicely complement a piquant suya.

Groundnuts. For 100 cfa (approximately $.25), you get a good-sized handful, neatly wrapped in a shred of clear plastic. There's no way you could do the work for cheaper than you pay on the street.

When in season -- oranges. Or, for that matter, any fruit. Mangoes, shaddock, papaya, pineapple, roasted plums, etc. But the fun thing about the oranges is their preparation. They are peeled, often in some beautiful scoring pattern, with the top sliced off so you just suck all the juice out until there's nothing left. Yumm.

Roasted corn. Usually well roasted. It's not sweet corn, so the experience is pretty chewy. And it's often quite burnt, but it still makes for a great snack on the road.

I'm sure I'm missing other classics, like pistache (egusi pudding), and the ubiquitous bananas. But I think I've made my point about the superiority of roadside noshes on the ever interesting highways and biways of Cameroon.


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