What I know, yet I can’t eat

During my 2009 trip to Grahamstown, as a group we  had the opportunity to visit Port Elizabeth. A beautiful seaside town where I hear Queen Elizabeth’s ship first anchored when she visited South Africa and where King George used to swim in the sea. I don’t have all the facts because I was there for just a short while. However, what has taken me to this town is the first encounter with what I considered a local food. We entered a restaurant for lunch and a buffet was laid out. As is the common experience with most people who have travelled to other countries and are unsure of what to eat, I went for what seemed familiar. It was some mashed stuff. It was actually mashed potato but not done in the manner I know. Where I grew up, in Tobin-Kumbo, I learnt to eat mashed potato and beans (I can’t actually write out the local name for it), but it was actually a mashed combination of potato, beans, palm oil and all the other spices that were needed. It is quite a delicacy, but what I saw before me was mashed plain potato and I was expected to eat it with some sauce. It couldn’t go down my throat, so I made do with steamed potato and chicken sauce. It has always been my desire to try new things especially food, because I always tell myself that if someone else can eat it, then I can but I have learnt over the years as I will keep sharing that one’s reaction during a first encounter with any new phenomenon is never the way one would expect. You may have all the good intentions but once something is before you, it is a whole different matter.

In Cape Town some years later, that should have been 2013, I came across what I still considered was food that I knew – Corn Fufu. On tasting it however, I realized it was completely different. For one thing, it was called Pap, but most importantly, it contained salt. I couldn’t take it. No self respecting Corn Fufu eater from any part of Cameroon will immediately welcome that, but as they say, ‘the taste of the pudding comes in the eating’. After some time, we get used to foods that we may have rejected before. The same thing applies to concepts and people. Once we open ourselves to other cultures and people, we learn to understand them, only then can we accept them. I will share at a later date my first encounter with an Ethiopian dish called Injera many years ago. It was horrible. I actually felt horrible and quite primitive about my reaction to the food in an Ethiopian restaurant in Manhattan, New York, but recently I had to eat it for about two weeks continuously on daily basis and I can assure you I have a different appreciation for the food, for many things other than just the taste. I have come across foods, people and cultures over the years. Just keep reading.


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(2) Comments

  1. Larry

    I would like to savour “injera” — it sounds musical 😉

    1. Manka

      Truly, it is an experience one cannot share with another. You have to try it for yourself

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