Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go. – Anthony Bourdain
Wherever I traveled in the world, I always found a McDonald’s. I saw a McDonald’s in the town center of Cusco, Peru. I saw one next to the Pantheon in Rome. I saw one on Champs-Elysées in Paris. I bought a milkshake from McDonald’s in Athens. I saw a few in Costa Rica. I saw too many McDonald’s to count in China. So, it just occurred to me that I haven’t seen McDonald’s anywhere in Cameroon. I haven’t even seen one in Yaounde, the capital of the city. I googled to see if there is one in Douala, and there isn’t one. That means it doesn’t exist in Cameroon. There are actually no fast food restaurants in Cameroon. No KFC. No Burger King. No Dominos. Nothing.
So, how do Cameroonians get their fast food? In Cameroon, there is no such a thing as drive throughs. However, there is still a system where people can still get food delivered right into the car. This system is called “street food.” There are often people on the sides of the road selling food such as sliced watermelons, peeled oranges, bananas, grilled corn, peanuts, and baton de manioc (starch paste inside a wrapped leaf). Drivers will often stop and passengers will stick their hands out the windows to hand money to the vendors and get the food. The passengers will then often eat the food in the car. These street food vendors are actually frequently found by police check points and pay tolls because cars are always stopped there giving street food vendors an easy opportunity to really sell the food to passengers.
In the city of Bamenda, I also often find many street food vendors sitting on sidewalks grilling fish, beef on sticks and plantains. People will walk by them, buy the food and eat them on the go. There are also many vendors walking around in town with huge plates of food sitting on top of their head. People can just approach those vendors and buy the food on the spot.
This situation is also the same in villages. In the center of villages, people will often find vendors selling fresh grilled fish, beignets, and fried plantains.
So while McDonald’s and any other fast food chains may not exist in this country, Cameroonians do still have their own way of getting food instantly.