An extra table

Sometime back I happened, within the space of a few days from each other, to eat at a “kafunda” and then at a classy restaurant. It’s not like I’d never been to any of those two kinds of places, but for the first time I noticed the stark contrast between them. It’s amazing the things we don’t notice, or that we notice everyday but gradually close our eyes, ears and hearts to. I was left confused anew by how different life is for people on different sides of this Kampala city of ours.

We went to the kafunda as a large group and there was barely anywhere to sit. We ended up having to pile up on two benches so tiny and shaky I was afraid they’d fall apart before we got a chance to get something into our stomachs. The carpenter who’d made the table we were to eat at must have had zero training; the thing looked resigned. And the food…..oh the food! It was dug out of grimy saucepans right in front of our eyes with hands that kept touching everything from stained kitenge wrappers to sweaty foreheads and leaky noses. I don’t even want to start on the cutlery. You should be able to picture its state from what you’ve read so far. And yet I’ve never enjoyed a meal so much in my life. One of these days I’m going to start believing that filthy conditions are a necessary ingredient for delicious food. Never mind how ridiculously cheap it all was.

Now on the EXTREME other hand, the classy restaurant. Dear Lord. The waiters warmly greeted us (only two this time; you don’t really go to cool restaurants in large numbers) with the warmest words and smiles, and a bow. Yes. They did a little curtsy for us! The person I was with had a big laptop and was checking emails, so the waiters felt the need to carry another table over to us so that we’d dine together and I’d still have enough space to eat comfortably without the laptop all up in my face. Before that I’d been amused by the sheer excess of serviettes they gave us, plus pretty little bottles of salad oils that looked like bottles of expensive perfume. But an extra table? Just for me? That left me nodding in amused approval! I asked for a sandwich and guess what; sandwiches come with an entire (huge!) plate of free fries (if they’re really free at all, considering the price of the meal). The sandwich was large, too. And superb! Not to mention the cinnamon flavored tea that I guzzled down with no mercy. Everything was on point.

Be not fooled though, people, we paid for all this luxury. A small fortune. And an arm and a leg. As we left I was almost saddened by how much we’d had to spend on a meal we could have gotten for a quarter of the price. Almost saddened. Because you can’t really be sad when a hot waiter in a hot outfit is smiling at you as he escorts you out of the restaurant, heartily thanking you and sweetly talking you into coming back again. Well, I guess we paid for that too. Such a charming side-smile can’t just be handed for free…… Oh, plus those luxurious serviettes. And the salad dressing that we didn’t even use.






I eat everything. Almost. Not really.

Are you a picky eater? Share some of your favorite food quirks with us (the more exotic, the better!). Omnivores: what’s the one thing you won’t eat? 


Most people I know hate cucumber, but I’d eat that stuff everyday for the rest of my life. Same goes for a number of leafy vegetables and a few funny fruits that surely only grow in my country (I can’t mention them because I don’t know what they’re called in English). In short, I eat a few things that wouldn’t be many people’s first option. Because of this, lots of people who know me think I eat everything.

If only they knew.

My name is Lydia and I’m a picky eater.

There was even a time in my life, quite recently, when I’d dread meal time. Of course I wanted to eat ’cause who doesn’t? The problem came in later, however, with the effects. The food we eat here generally includes a staple food (usually a very heavy carbohydrate) and a sauce/soup (usually protein food like fish, meat and legumes). Now those heavy carbs……those were mostly the issue (and they still are, sometimes). For some reason, my digestive system wasn’t in the mood for any hard work. I was relieved to know it was a disorder, but that’s where the relief ended. No doctor could conjure up enough “doctor-ly powers” to diagnose this thing and do something about it. I was tired of stomachache. Tired of feeling bloated all the time. Tired of not enjoying food because I was worried about how I’d feel after eating. Tired of my stomach itself.

I stopped (at least willingly) eating most of the food available to me. Some of this behavior still exists, but I’m gradually becoming less picky. I’d only be happy eating fruits and vegetables and drinking tea. Goodness, I love tea. Tea, besides being the best beverage ever, enabled me to take as much ginger, lemon grass and cinnamon as possible, and those helped to calm down my stomach (while tasting great too).

So I don’t eat everything, or even go anywhere near that. But I’m getting better. And I’m just glad I’m able to eat normally. Not everyone gets to eat food that’s not pumped into your system through a web of tubes.

Everything else aside, I just won’t eat fish. It doesn’t even give me any problems. I just hate it.

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