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Cooking in Cameroon

Spaghetti is my signature dish here. At home, a simple pasta meal would take less than 30 minutes, including the time it takes to buy ingredients at the store. In Cameroon, making spaghetti is an all-day adventure. It begins at the markets, where I spend almost four hours (!) buying my ingredients. Beef is purchased from one spot, then taken to another stall to be ground. We go to a different market entirely to buy the spaghetti and then hunt down some vegetables and spices.

Once I’m home, I survey my kitchen, which consists of one dull knife, a busted stove and a suspect-looking propane burner. Let the cooking begin!

I’m 20 minutes into my preparations when the electricity goes out. Suddenly the dodgy burner is a gift from the heavens. With a flashlight held over my head, I get back to work. It’s a slow, laborious process, but it’s interspersed with a lot of laughter and reminiscing with loved ones, which makes the time pass quickly.

Over two hours (!) later, we sit down to eat. It’s not the fanciest dish I’ve ever made, but it’s easily one of the most enjoyable. This is my favourite tradition during any trip to Cameroon: preparing dinner for those nearest and dearest to me (you know who you are and I love you all SO much! You make my trips worthwhile and I would be nothing without you in my life).

This meal reminds me that everything we do in Cameroon requires patience, perseverance and a very healthy sense of humour. On that note, I vow to never again complain about lineups at Safeway!

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