Thursday, November 22, 2012

D-28 days... African restaurants

I already mentioned African food, but going into a restaurant in West Africa is an experience everybody must have... well, at least once!

Most of the better restaurants here are owned by Lebanese people and thus serve good Arabic food. Sure, they cater for western people as well just as much as for Africans, but their really strength is in good Arabic food like Shwarma! (kebab type of meat with veggies wrapped up in a thin, flat bread) :)

Safest way to drink here: they do give you  a glass that's washed with local water and what not
so you can forget that. The can itself is quite dirty as well, so just grab a straw,
 turn that little thingy around and it will hold your straw straight! :)
Last night we tested a new place called Istambul. It's in walking distance from the ship and is a pretty upscale place - compared to other restaurants around us. It has A/C and they have napkins and table cloth on the table! Pretty impressive! (again, probably for you it's kinda poor and you wouldn't like it, but when you are here long enough you learn to appreciate the little things!)

First you order drinks. What I love most about Africa is that you do have western drinks, but they all have Arabic names and they are made with real sugar instead of corn syrup; they are very sweet! Here is my 'Fanta orange' drink disguised as a Miranda Mango :)))

We tried to order in Frenglish, but we weren't too successful. Our waitress said that they 'just ran out of chicken shwarma'. Of course! We know, this is the standard line of no, we don't have it, don't even try later!

Fine, some of us ordered beef shwarma. Darren and I were adventurous and we tried the 'Istambul Special'. From our little charade game we figured it's a little bit of everything, hence the high price. It sounded like a good deal so we thought we could share one plate. Yeah, think again. Somehow our waitress didn't understand it so we ended up ordering one for him and nothing for me. :) After everybody ordered the waiting and guessing game starts: what you ordered / what's on the picture in the menu / what you are actually getting and the correlation in percentage between these 3! It's a great game if you have time and you are not so hungry!!!

Amazingly it didn't take long for our food to arrive. Even more so amazing that the waitress did understood us after all and brought extra plates! We were about to dig in, when somebody asked the standard question: who has hand-sanitizer? Yeah, good point! Back home you'd be considered rude if you did that in front of the waitress, but here it's a must unless you wanna get fast-fast. Actually, even after hand-san you can still get a nice, long, painful fast-fast, just think about the many possibilities: the meat is not cooked enough, the fresh veggies are washed in local water, the sauce has expired milk in it...etc.

But even with all these risks you just bless the meal and start eating. And it tastes delicious! For once the chicken (hah, did you catch it? They did have chicken after all!!) is well cooked, the beef is well seasoned, the veggies look fresh, the sauce is wonderful and the portion is enough for the 2 of us easily! And suddenly you forget that you are in Africa, that poverty, cholera, thefts and death just outside the door and for once you have a splendid meal with wonderful friends!

Oh, best bit: Ali was kind enough to pick up the tab for us! What a blessing!!! :)

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