What: Sweet little snacks, called cakes here, are popular street foods in any Salone city or market. They’re sold by mobile (walking, that is) vendors, typically in clear plastic containers carried atop their heads. Some common ones include doughnut cakes (beignet-like fritters), banana cakes (banana fritters), coconut and ginger cakes, benni cakes (made with sesame seed), and groundnut cakes (like peanut brittle), and these are in addition to the more savory rice and binch akaras, also little fritters. Our favorite of all the sweet cakes, though, is the biscuit-like King Driver, pictured. Why this cake is known by some as “Kill Driver” may depend on whom you ask, but the story we heard is it’s so sweet and heavy that if a driver eats it he’ll fall into a hazy sugar coma, crash his car, and perish. A warning tale told with a wicked grin, every time.
Where: All the cakes, including the King Driver, are pretty easy to find around Freetown. We found this one on what’s perhaps the city’s most chaotic street, Fourah Bay Road, near the intersection with Kissy Road. Again, the vendors are always moving, so be on the lookout for plastic tubs.
Good to know: Many vendors have a habit of handing you a cake with their own (bare) hands, which they also handle money with. It’s OK to ask if you can take your own cake out of the bin—just be sure to touch only the one you’re eating.
Order: This King Driver went for Le500. It has a nice external crunch, but melts into buttery sweetness inside. We had to have two.
Alternatively: Our favorite doughnut and banana cakes came from the bustling market at Waterloo (map), where ginger cakes are also popular. On the streets of Bo, we tried the delicious sweet benni and sticky groundnut cakes. In Freetown, for a similar kind of sweet off the streets, pop into Salvonne (022-22591328; Percival St., map), a terrific bakery with tasty banana muffins (as well as scones, brown bread, sausage rolls, croissants, meat pies, and more).