– My eating habits lately have been… uninspiring. Ok, they’re pretty uninspiring at the best of times, but in South Africa they’ve been down right dismal. What you have to understand is, when you get up at 6, spend the day carrying out the masochistic exercise that is Ecology to collapse on your front door step by 5, goad yourself upright to finish data processing by 7 or 8, shower (which takes longer than you might expect), and then fall into bed again by 10, pretty much the last thing you want to do is spend any one of those precious free hours in food preparation. Well, it’s the last thing I want to do, you might have other priorities. Meals simply become a way to stop the annoying noises your stomach is making, and it gets to the point where you don’t really care what goes into there as long as it stops complaining (especially when you’re working with M.C. Escher’s oven-stove and no microwave).
– They’ve got these wonderful things called Lunch Bars here. Rejoice calls them “chocolate,” but they also have wafers, peanuts, caramel, and “crispy rice.” Perhaps it’s not exactly a well-rounded meal, but they are called Lunch Bars, and I see no reason not to take them at their word.
– My hot dogs went bad the other day. I say, “hot dogs” but as far as I can tell they’re actually some conglomeration of chicken and turkey, and I say “went bad” but really it was just some whitish film on the outside of the casing. It was a whole package of hot dogs, like twenty of them. They were supposed to last a month. So I ran them under some boiling water and then put them in the freezer. This was far more physical contact than I had ever chosen to have with these hotdogs (aside from eating them) and it made me realize just how distasteful the casing actually was; rubbery and vaguely slimy feeling. So now, before I eat one, I peel the casing off. Have you ever tried peeling the tubing off a hot dog? It’s a suggestive and unappealing process. For those that are grossed out by all of this, obviously you’ve never had to do what needed to be done. Besides, I’ve eaten far less hygienic stuff backpacking and I’m still alive. Germophobia is why our country is in such a sorry state, the war on allergies demand that we all just relax.
– In happier news, I’ve made another convert to God’s chosen meal. Rejoice was very skeptical at first. You should have seen the face she made when she tasted the soy sauce. R: “…too salty.” K: (well, shit, I was happy enough to find soy sauce, and it had dust all over it. Low-sodium would be pushing it) “You only need to put a little…” R: “That’s okay. [two minutes later] It’s fine, but there’s not enough salt.” K: “… well, maybe, a little … soy sauce?” She was most amazed by the eggs. Apparently the idea of frying eggs in butter is just too crazy an idea to have ever been conceived of. She told me that they cook eggs in cooking oil here and so afterwards you can’t see the yolk when it’s done (I realize now that probably has less to do with the cooking oil and more to do with breaking the yolk, which seems laughably obvious except it didn’t even cross my mind at the time). Her eggs and rice were enjoyed with the additional condiments of ketchup and “Spice for rice,” a spice mixture they sell here that’s actually pretty good and will be brought home with me, and after she was done she informed me that she will be making “my” eggs and rice again. I think she was most enamored with the preparation time to satisfying meal ratio, as she’s used to spending over two hours cooking for herself and Hloniphani.
– About three weeks ago, I realized I hadn’t eaten meat (the hotdogs don’t count) or had alcohol in over a month and I experienced a sad sort of existential crisis. I was in a pretty bad way, to be honest, and my cravings were starting to rival those of pregnant women (including the wine cravings, I would imagine). This was perhaps not the best frame of mind to go grocery shopping in. Now the meat they sell at the Pick-N-Pay falls under a strict dichotomy: microwavable, or comes-with-free-hacksaw. It’s also pretty expensive, as these things go. At any rate I found myself staring at an entire, shrink-wrapped chicken, and realized my food-apathy had just overrun my meat cravings and would soon take the war. Let this be a note on my character. I still kept an eye out though, with a desperate sort of hope, and was drawn, as if by fate, to the open freezer section, where I found: Mama’s Pot Pies. Potpies are a big deal in South Africa, they sell them like they sell chicken wings at gas stations in the US. Most of them are filled with beef fat or pork and I simply cannot finish them. The ones I found in the freezer section were chicken and mushroom. This seemed promising. I flipped the package over and checked the ingredients. “This package may contain genetically modified organisms.” … organisms? Are these … chicken organisms? I could smell the pastry wafting off the package. Smell it, in the freezer section. It smelled delicious. There were oven directions on the box. …Fuck it. I put it into my basket. After that purchase I was invited to a braai, a wonderful, delicious, amazing, wine-filled braai, and all of my cravings were sated. The chicken potpies looked a whole lot less appealing after that. But eventually, inevitably, things reached a state such that it was easier to just pop them into the oven and pray for the best. When I cut into the pastry after they were finished, I was met with contents that can be best described as “dish water,” in appearance and consistency. If there was meat in there, I couldn’t find it. The pastry still smelled good though. I ate two of them. I regretted it. The rest were promptly thrown away and that’s the last that shall be said on the topic.