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Meet the Instagramer: @afrovitalityeats on Cameroonian cuisine

We’re following Elsie, a Cameroonian-born pharmacist based in Tennessee whose blog showcases her native cuisine.

By National Geographic Traveller Food
Published 20 Dec 2019, 17:00 GMT, Updated 26 May 2021, 13:24 BST
Beet Smoothie
A shot of a beet smoothie.
Photograph by @afrovitalityeats

Why did you launch a blog on West African and Cameroonian food?

I wanted an avenue to express myself, to develop as a person. I couldn’t think of anything more satisfying than to accomplish this by sharing my culture through food.

Describe Cameroon’s cuisine.

Dishes that dance with rice and beans in the most savoury way. We eat spicy soups and work wonders with root vegetables like cassava and coco yams. And we never forget the fresh herbs that complement our favourite proteins, fish and chicken.

What are your favourites to cook?

Grilled whole fish, known as poisson braisé, and koki — a traditional dish, specially from my tribe, which brings back the best memories; picture beans blended with spice, palm oil and coco yam leaves cooked into a savoury loaf.

Where do you get inspiration? 

Honestly, I use what I have at my disposal. Shopping options are different in the United States, and I love the challenge of mixing things up. For the traditional dishes, I have my lovely mum to thank. 

What food did you grow up with?

Some staples were plantain, avocado, mango, sweet potato and lots of greens like huckleberry and eru. We ate from the bounty of our land, and reserved chicken and beef for special occasions. Cameroon has an Atlantic coast, and our cuisine is greatly influenced by the sea. 

Was moving to the USA a culture shock, especially food wise? 

It was hard, I’m not going to lie. Once I found familiar ingredients, though, and took some time to learn how to use local foods, I was well on my way. In America, they have their food trucks. In Cameroon, we have our street food, such as spicy grilled beef or chicken or roasted corn — it makes for a fun night scene.

Four to follow: Elsie's favourite Instagramers 

1. @chouchoumpacko
She shares culture, food and travel information about Cameroon that people wouldn’t normally have access to. 

2. @1qfoodplatter
Love how true she is to traditional Nigerian cooking. She highlights key ingredients and shows how best to work with them. 

3. @dennistheprescott
Impeccable food photography. Sometimes you really do eat with your eyes and this page will keep you scrolling nonstop. 

4. @thesaltedtable
Personal chef and blogger Charles offers amazing at-home dining experiences, gatherings and cooking classes. 

Follow Elsie on Instagram

Published in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveller Food

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