I really thought Cameroon was going to be easy. There are nearly 200,000 Cameroonian immigrants and refugees in the United States, and New York would seem like a natural place for a lot of them to settle. It became clear pretty quickly though that we weren’t going to have a whole lot of options. There’s apparently a swank bar in the East Village owned by a hip Cameroonian-born DJ, but the menu seemed to have little to no Cameroonian influence. That was about all I found on the interwebs, so it was time to make some phone calls.
In the spring, when we were searching for Beninese food, and I called around to see if anyone could point me in the right direction, I had done no prior research regarding what dishes I might actually be seeking out. As a result, I spent most of the conversations I hemming and hawing and making apologies for my total ignorance. This time was going to be different though. I spent more than two minutes Googling Cameroonian cuisine, and I learned that the national dish is ndolé, a bitter leaf stew, usually cooked with fish or goat meat (bear in mind though that Cameroon has something like 200+ ethnic cuisines). Armed with this information, I called up the Mission to the U.N., our old stand by when we’re completely out of other ideas. When I asked the nice lady who answered my call if she knew of any place where I could find ndolé, she laughed hysterically, an appropriate response really, as if she were predicting the ridiculousness that would ensue. She asked if I wanted a restaurant, or if I would prefer someone to prepare it for me. I said I’d be happy with either, so she took my number down and told me that someone would contact me within the next few minutes. Less than five minutes later, I got a call from a woman who said that she could prepare ndolé with seafood for us on the following Monday. read more »