Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cultural Differences....The Newly Married African Wife (Cooking)

Cameroonian Love

This has been the most difficult aspect of marriage for me. As people of color sometimes we may all overlook that we are all very culturally different although our appearance is similar. You could be a brown person from America, Brazil, Africa, the Islands or even Europe... and  based on your environment and upbringing.... we can be vastly different. I never considered it, but I had the best attitude when I decided to begin a relationship with a Cameroonian man. Based on how welcoming his friends and family were, I was anxious to trade in my stars and stripes for a new world. I delved into African Entertainment (music and movies) to become more aware. I researched my husband's country online. I asked him countless questions as to not be perceived as rude or inappropriate around his friends. I listened carefully to their language (Pigden broken English) and kept abreast the conversations as much as possible. These were my efforts of the girlfriend. However as the wife, I was confronted with more difficult aspects of cultural differences. First and foremost.... I would highly suggest learning how to cook food for your husband that he likes. In the African culture... and this goes for all African countries, cooking for your husband and your family is essential. It is perceived as impersonal or lazy to constantly be offering to take someone out to eat vs in the American lifestyle, going out to eat and spending money is perceived as something you do to someone valuable. I am definitely someone that prefers being served and going out, but I learned early from my husband that it was not acceptable . He didn't mind going occasionally.... but throughout the week, he wanted home cooked food. At first I would cook staple foods, grilled chicken and veggies, Spaghetti, potatoes and things like that only to see the food sit in the refrigerator untouched. Apparently my husband enjoyed spicy food, and my food just wasn't packed with the familiar punch he was accustomed. He didn't enjoy most American classics (Macaroni, pizza, pastas, mashed potatoes and such) as some dishes had too much sugar or dairy, which is not always a big part of the African diet. Diary can sometimes be very expensive in Africa. Also he was accustomed to meals cooked from scratch in large portions (I learned to eventually cook on the weekends to last for the whole week). Nonetheless, It hurt my feelings, so after getting frustrated. I would just quit cooking altogether. My husband is a quiet introverted man, so his frustration with my cooking or not cooking would just bottle up inside of him. He wouldn't complain, but would respond in different ways. Eventually I learned a few recipes from online (YouTube was helpful),asked some of his family to email me recipes, and prepared them for him.Now do be prepared to go to the African Market to find some ingredients as everything may not be available in your regular grocer. I asked him ways to make it better, and he helped. Now I do realize some women are stubborn, and they believe that they should not have to make sacrifices and that a man should just take them the way that they are, however I do not subscribe to these foolish ways. I believe in making my husband happy and comfortable... so it was my desire to learn things that he likes to please him. Now if you are dating an African man with hopes or even a notion of the prospect of marriage, I would highly suggest that you cultivate this skill. Some African women do not regard American women as real competition for the African man... which means although he is married to you... they may feel that they still have a chance. Sometimes they will pretend to be a helpful friend to your husband.. by offering to cook his food. To alleviate it this happening, you want to put yourself in the best position by providing him the comforts at home. Be interested in his world, not that you don't have your own needs ,but learn to be accommodating.... because those are the kind of women they are used too and are attracted to. I must admit once I got over the cooking issue, the tension in our house was cut significantly. In my case, my husband did not want to communicate his true feelings on the subject at first, because he didn't want to hurt my feelings, but it was my responsibility to read his strange behaviors and find out what was bothering him. Below, I have showcased some popular meals that can be prepared for you Cameroonian man.... make sure if you search for recipes online you are specific to the country you are looking for, as there are many different variations such as Ghanaian Jelouf rice vs. Cameroonian Jelouf rice.
Tomato Stew: One of my Husband's absolute favorites, and easy to make
Groundnut (Peanut) Soup & Fufu
Jalouf Rice

Eru & Fried Plantains

Puff Puff Balls

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