20 February 2008

lunch [retrospective]

Several months ago, I thought I was done with the retrospective Sudan posts. Then I found another one that I don't think I've posted before. It's just been clunking around in my computer, and I figured I might as well post it, since my head is otherwise occupied with law, law, law. (I went back to tax last night. Worse than ever.)


8 November 2007

The lunch was “meat,” my colleague whispered to me. “Maybe I can go to the market and get something for you?”

“I’ll come,” I said, and slung my purse over my shoulder.

He first suggested a cake – a packaged sweet bread (think Hostess but, well, different, in the sense of less tasty and more preservative-filled, if that’s even possible). I was really not into the cake-for-lunch idea unless it was a pretty great cake, preferably homemade, largely because one very very unfortunately side effect of the amoeba I am still carting around is that it makes sweet things taste less good than they once did. Oh, for the taste buds of my 15-year-old self that could eat Nacho Cheesier Doritos and Mountain Dew for breakfast. So good. It’s very annoying to crave junk food, eat it, and then not actually LIKE it while you are eating it. You would think it would make me stop eating it and I’d become a health nut or something, but no. Because I keep craving, I keep eating. I just don’t enjoy it. Actually, I crave MORE because I don’t feel satisfied because I just ate chocolate but I! Didn’t! Enjoy! It! (How is that even possible?)

I countered with a suggestion of lentils, if possible. We ducked into a little, dim restaurant. It was made of reeds, of course, with a tarpaulin for a roof.

It was my first real restaurant experience in Sudan. We washed our hands into a basin and received a big round tray with four round pieces of bread and two metal bowls of sauce. I had foul and he had meat. I felt very worldly for knowing what foul is. (Fava bean* paste - thank you, Hummus Place – MacDougal between West 3rd and Bleecker in the Village, New York, New York. Totally worth whatever trip it takes.) In this case, fava beans ground into a paste using the bottom of a Mirinda bottle. Hey, it works.

My bread had sand in it, but that’s not so intolerable. The foul had little bits of purple onions on top, along with finely grated white cheese. It needed a lot of salt. We sat in the dim, scooping sauce on our bread. I was the only woman in the building.

We washed the meal down with Royal Grenadine soda. It looks like this:

What is a grenadine, anyway? Because that looks a lot like a pomegranate to me (maybe? or no discernible fruit?), but the ingredients include “grenadine flavor” and “raspberry flavor” and it tastes a lot like a slightly more palatable version of red pop. My other colleague, to whom I gave a capful of the stuff when we got back to the meeting (I have a cold – sharing not a good idea), said it tasted like communion wine.

* Fava bean note: why was I required to be tested for some disease characterized by a severe fava bean allergy before I came to Southern Sudan? It has something to do with which anti-malarials you can take, but wouldn’t you think they could just ask, “Have you ever had fava beans? Are you allergic to them? Did you nearly die the last time you ate them?” Wouldn’t you KNOW if you were allergic to fava beans, if you’d ever eaten them? Also, I’ve taken mefloquine before without problems. Also, this disease occurs almost exclusively in males of African descent. How likely am I to have it? I am not male, first of all. That's fairly obvious. And then, I’ve even TRIED to have African American friends tell me if they think there’s any black blood in me when they say that they can see it in a lot of people who would be shocked to find out that they were part black and they just shake their heads and laugh and say, “Sorry. You are as white as they come.” Stupid all-Dutch ancestors. I cannot, by the way, marry a Dutch boy. It would be such a waste of genetic diversity.

1 comment:

Damian said...

This is a great little tale! I love the photo of your dining table in the dim.

Sand bread sounds familiar. My partner spent a year in Afghanistan and loves telling the story about her naan which was crunchy with sand.

Glad you dropped by my wee blog. I think I'll keep an eye on yours now.