People are offered prepared chicken, fish or spices such that one can just put the items directly into the pot from the market.
As the adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention. With the present economic hardship, young men in the economic capital have come up with creative ideas proposing household services as cleaning of fish or chicken as well as grounded spices to city dwellers thereby reducing the art of cooking to just putting the items in the pot directly from the markets. Their target is mostly working class women who do not have enough time to devote to cooking and therefore resort to these services in order to ease the work.
The most widespread of such services is that of cleaning chicken. That is, when someone buys a table bird, young men offer to take off the feathers and if need be cut it into pieces such that the owners just have to wash it and start cooking upon arrival in the house. According to Fobassa Obeille, a chicken cleaner at the Bonamoussadi market in Douala, chicken cleaning is good business as he can clean from 50 to 100 chickens a day. A chicken is cleaned for FCFA 100 and the cleaner may have the luck that the customers as him to remove the entrails and tatters which he can in turn sell to other women or those specialized in roasting gizzards thereby increasing his profit margin. According to Madam Yonki N., it is a dubious market for even if the person does not give the orders for the entrails to be taken off; he or she would find that it had been taken away despite the fact that the table bird had not been dissected. Fobassa Obeille says the trick lies in sending hand through the anus and cut in the throat to pull out the entrails.
However, women, especially the working class appreciate the service saying it eases the work for them when they get back home. “Since I have a fridge in my office, I buy the chicken on my way to work since I close late at times, on my way back there is no reason to stop in the market with all the traffic jam at that time of the day. When I go home, I just cut it into pieces, wash it and start cooking,” said Stella Berinyuy, a worker with the transport office in Douala.
The same goes for fish, spices like ginger, garlic and other spices used especially for pepper soup. “If you want it peeled, they peel it for you, if you want it ground, they also do it. Some people have even started peeling plantains in the market.
Though the service has come to simplify the art of cooking, it has some dangers such as the in hygienic conditions under which these things are done. The same water, for instance can be used for cleaning over fifty chickens and when they finish, they used fire from a gas apparatus to burn off the little white feathers that are left over. Spices are ground on the same machine without washing before grinding the next item which makes the taste of sometimes unwanted spices to infer into the taste of the soup. Also, accidents occur especially when cleaning the scales of fish and it can lead to blood contamination which and it can cause the propagation of disease in case the cleaner was suffering from a blood transmissible disease. There is therefore need for control in this sector which for now is left only in the hands of the buyer, seller and service provider.