Bite and Booze by Jay D. Ducote

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cameroon - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


Bite and Booze returns to the host continent of the 2010 FIFA World Cup for a look at the eats and drinks of Cameroon.  This country is sometimes referred to as "Africa in miniature" for its geological and cultural diversity.  The relatively small nation sits on the western edge of central Africa and includes beaches, deserts, mountains, rain forests, and savannas.  Cameroon is also home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups, making it difficult to nail down their most cultural bites and boozes.  Still, as they play their second match of the World Cup today against Denmark, we'll see what they have to offer.

Ndole is generally considered the national dish of Cameroon.  The meal most closely resembles a stew containing nuts and bitter leaves that are native to western Africa.  Some refer to it as a bitterleaf soup.  The leaves are similar to spinach but more acidic, creating a more bitter taste when cooked than spinach.  Peanuts are usually used as well as onions and garlic.  Ndole is typically served with fried plantains, steamed banana leaves, or rice.  The meat of choice is usually a combination of shrimp and smoked fish, though ground beef is sometime used in ndole as well.
Beer is by far the most popular alcoholic beverage in Cameroon, with many people making their own brews from millet or maize.  Many publications are concerned that Cameroonians are now drinking too much alcohol, but I don't buy it.  How can you have too much of a good thing like beer?  However, Susan Diduk points out in her article titled European Alcohol, History, and the State in Cameroon, "Today it is impossible to overlook the significance of bottled alcohol production and consumption in the Republic of Cameroon.  Bars selling bottled beers mark rural commercial centers and proliferate on city streets.  They are so pervasive that it is difficult to imagine city, town, or village without them..."  Unfortunately, most of this bottled beer is imported from Europe and not a product of Cameroon.  The millet and maize beers are produced locally though, as is another popular beverage: palm wine.  Palm wine is made from the fermentation of sap from the palm tree.

For more on beer in Cameroon, check out Eric's post on the BR Beer Scene!

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