Cameroon seems to have both a firm and incredibly loose grasp on what America is really like. As I stumble around trying to make sense of where I am and what I’m doing here, I’ll find that everyone once in a while I’ll get hit over the head with a generalization so spot on that it rings true for days. Ahem, for instance…
While visiting the classiest local restaurant I know of (read: Puff puff and bean mommy closest to my house) I had a man start to make fun of Americans. “Americans can’t stand pepe!” he said, which is partially true. I told him I like it small small, but Postmate Kate is a champ at pepe and they should chat. I countered that I am a champ at puff puff and beans and do not dally on things so trivial as pepe levels and the banality that is the competition to achieve them. Then he struck.
“Americans don’t like puff puff and beans! Americans like sandwiches!”
Well, wait, I mean… sure, I love a good sandwich. Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? Sandwiches are a world wide phenomenon of gastronomic genius, aren’t there? A testament to the pinnacle of human
consumption—carb and veg and meat and cheese all symbiotically existing in a single being. Didn’t that one episode of 30 Rock translate through all global generations? All anyone wants is to sit alone and eat a sandwich.
As I racked my brain I realize that in no way are sandwiches common-place in this country. I haven’t seen a damn sandwich advertised since I got here (Unless you count a burger, and I don’t). During training I remember the look of confusion when I told my host-parents that I was about to blow their minds with my culinary culmination of an omelet sandwich. Later I actually made them grimace when I told them I regularly put bananas and Nutella/honey/peanut butter on bread and go to town.
Just for fun, I asked the local kids to rattle off some more “American” foods. Topping the lists? Spaghetti, eggs, French fries (which I had just made for them the day before), pizza, and any raw vegetable, which, when I confirmed I ate elicited a massive “Ew!” from the kids.
Guacamole sandwiches, banana sandwiches, bruchetta sandwiches, omelet sandwiches…. A good 3/7th of the week you can find me with a delicious version of the go-to generic American food. Long live the sandwich. Tasteless paste dipped in what looks like snot (and is called Achu, much to my amusement) is something they can get behind here, but sandwiches? Not so much.