It was a pretty uneventful Saturday morning and I spent most of it browsing the net and revisiting the sundry files in my laptop. I re-read and re-edit some of the stuffs (mostly poems) I’ve been trying, in vain, to publish in my “Musings Of A Mutant Mind” blog. I also read some of my old blog entries from my Blogger account and it got me filled with nostalgia. I find it hard to keep too many blogs and social networking accounts, what with having to memorize too many passwords, so I decide to just keep my one WordPress, one Blogger, Facebook and Twitter (sorry, Friendster). Hopefully I can get my “writing” mood back. In the meantime, I’ll be posting some of my old stuffs which are re-post-worthy, with the hope that it will also spark some curious memory in my friends.
(originally posted 26 September, 2008)
Everyday at school, I am faced with the ordeal of eating bad dining hall food. I am no food connoisseur, but you need not be an expert to tell whether a food is good or bad. What our school’s concessionaire serves is pretty much decent, nothing close to being spoiled or something. But if you are exposed to such mediocrity on a daily basis you will certainly have a problem.
It’s as if the entire universe conspires in completely robbing you the sheer joy and pleasure of eating. The torture always begins with lack of obvious choice, what with kenkey balls with ground pepper with fish, kenkey with groundnut soup, rice with kontomire casserole, waakye, white porridge, plain cocoa beverage, Sunday what-is-not-jollof and whatever rice dish imaginable.
Then there are the usual bread problems which are tolerable but nonetheless uninspired. Oh, and milk problems with seniors! They are mad-crazy over milk. And day-old stuffs too. Such cost-efficient ways to recycle food, I suppose. A bowl of kenkey or rice dish or two, may appear every once in a while, but baby food looks way much decent than the usual culprits which is beans stew. Yes, you are not hallucinating, beans stew (okay, you may be excused to puke). And when you made the safest choice, the lesser evil, so to speak, that’s when the real tormenting begins. Talk about meat the texture of rubber and some of the weirdest tastes imaginable. They don’t even bother to serve the food hot (or maybe I just arrive at the hall too late).
My colleagues and I have devised strategies to numb the senses and make lunch and/or supper breaks somewhat an acceptable experience by seeking aid from the trusty shito, sardines, mackerel in tomato sauce, ketchup and any other canned material available (the sensation of burning taste buds from shito feels a lot better, I guess).
Some bring their own meat, but for most of us who either don’t have the luxury and/or are simply too lazy to even bother, the daily trips to the dining hall is truly a test of character and endurance. I used to think that eating is an experience to be enjoyed — every taste, every texture and aroma – a sensation to behold.
Food for me is more than just science. It is more than just chemistry. It is alchemy, sorcery, and art even – concoctions designed not merely as remedy to maladies of body or mind, but attend to the far more wondrous task of uplifting the soul. And mind you, I still do. But everyday, when I step into the dining hall, I am reminded that food has a far less deep and not-so-philosophical purpose. That is to comfort an ailing stomach, tame the vicious beast that lurks in my intestines, and if I’m lucky, provide nourishment to a tired body (although, I doubt if our dining food have any nourishment at all). And at the end of the day, I’m still thankful that like breathing, I have the opportunity, or more appropriately the luxury of eating bad dining food because a million others don’t. When you think about it, a hell lot of people would die, let alone kill to have a taste of that hardened kenkey or ice-cold beans stew, if only to have food in their stomach, if only to ease more than a day’s worth of hunger, if only to survive.
SOME CURIOUS OBSERVATIONS
(made in my senior year)
It’s been more than two years since I wrote this, and sad to say, I still suffer the same ordeal. The horror continues, and it’s gotten worse. We now have supposed eggs and chicken that tastes like paper, hausa porridge that is “to-kill-for”, to name a few. The worst comes during weekends, when the I choose not to go to dining hall. Students literally have to make do of what’s available, unless you want to stay on an empty stomach or have the luxury of running off to town to get more acceptable food.