Omelettes are for breakfast. Sandwiches are for lunch. Spaghetti is for dinner. When, then, is the proper time to eat a spaghetti omelette sandwich?
If you’re in Cameroon, the answer is “whenever you want.” The popular dish is pretty much what it sounds like: leftover spaghetti, tossed with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and a Maggi seasoning cube that’s cooked in eggs and served on a baguette.
You can find the versatile meal “in every cafe in Cameroon, and almost all small restaurants,” says Binyou Bi Homb, a poet and musician. If you’re on the go, you can grab a spaghetti omelette sandwich from a roadside stand or from one of the country’s many mobile vendors, who sell food from bicycle-powered carts.
In Cameroon, says Bi Homb, “we don’t call it breakfast or lunch or dinner. When we are hungry, we eat. Generally, people eat one or two times per day.” The spaghetti omelette sandwich is most common as a mid-morning snack, Bi Homb says, but you might also see people eating it first thing, in the middle of the day, or in the evening, when it’s often served accompanied by coffee sweetened with condensed milk. It costs just a dollar or two, depending on how many eggs you want, and whether you add in common accoutrements like sardines, beef, or pork.
“Unlike in developed countries, this is our fast-food industry,” says Bi Homb. As such, he says, you can get the sandwich and similar foods almost everywhere: “close to administrative buildings, police buildings, markets, supermarkets, bars and restaurants, on streets, or on the way to schools, universities, and hospitals.” If a fast-food conglomerate did open an outpost near a spaghetti omelette sandwich stand, he says, they’d be in for the fight of their life: Odds are good that whatever the chain was selling, the spaghetti omelette sandwich would be less expensive—and equally tasty.