Monday, July 23, 2012

Adventures in a Foreign Land - Poutine

What is poutine? Poutine is a French Canadian dish, made with french fries (chips), topped with brown gravy and curd cheese. Sometimes additional ingredients are added e.g. beef, pork, lamb, lobster, shrimp, caviar (I do have a story on "my first caviar", but this is getting too food related), but basically it's french fries, gravy and cheese. Does sound kinda yucky huh? (yeah, that was my first thought when I heard what went into it). This is what poutine looks like.
Poutine - looks yummy?
I remember there was this time I went out with a friend, I ordered a burger and he ordered poutine. I just kept looking (more like staring) at him as he ate and I actually asked if he was enjoying what he was eating. He just gave me this totally incredulous look and was like "of course".

Sometime after that, some Ghanaian friends invited myself and my Gh work colleague out to lunch (of course this time we went very prepared to pay even though they are guys and Ghanaian). We get to the restaurant, look through the menu and we both order poutine while the guys ordered something that sounded familiar (I think one got french fries and lamb or something and the other got rice). I really would have ordered a burger but I wanted to know what poutine tasted like. The food arrives and guess what? I couldn't eat it (neither could my Gh friend). Eventually, she gave up and joined the guys to eat their "familiar" food, but I was determined to eat what I had ordered (and all I kept saying to myself was "where's the MEAT?").

At the end, the guys paid for lunch, I dint enjoy my lunch and I so wished I'd just ordered something else.

Moral: (is there even a moral to this? yeah, I think I can find one) it's good to try out new stuff but you won't always enjoy all the new stuff you try (condition your mind to that) & don't try out new food on an empty stomach (you just might end up regretting big time and just eating what's in front of you just cos it's food) plus it doesn't hurt to give up (sometimes). I seriously wished I'd given up and joined the others to eat the "familiar" food (the guys would have understood. they really dint get why we ordered what we did and they kept trying to get us to change our minds. I'm sure in their heads it was all "I told you so", but they were nice enough not to voice that out). Matter of fact, I dint join them cos I was just fronting (acting all like I was enjoying it when I wasn't). It doesn't hurt to admit when you are wrong (afterall, you human).

I hear poutine is actually real good depending on where you get it at. It might have tasted better if I'd got it at say Burger King or A&W (I had it at a university restaurant).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Adventures in a Foreign Land - The Sushi Date

Where I’m from (at least what I’m used to where I’m from), usually, when someone invites you out to lunch or dinner (basically to do something that involves the spending of money), unless otherwise stated, the person (or people) that did the inviting pay for that something.

I’d never had sushi (the thought of raw fish still sends something up and down my spine) before so of course I was curious about it. Imagine my excitement (ummmmm... I think) when two of my work colleagues invited myself and another Gh gal out for lunch, and we were gon have sushi (Yay!). This invitation came a week before the lunch date (I guess you could call it that) so we had a whole week to contemplate how this date was gon go. I was of the opinion that we should go prepared to pay for our food especially since the invitation came from females (besides I’d heard that even with guys over there, you’d still have to settle your own bill). My Gh work colleague however was of the opinion that since we were “sitting our somewhere”, and these ladies felt we should try sushi (it is after all more than just raw fish. I always thought it was all about fish that was raw), then they would have to pay (I really don't know where this idea came from ooo... it was more of gals gals going to get lunch or something. why did we expect them to pay for us?). Of course you can’t blame her cos we were barely surviving on the money we made plus jeez! just about all of it went into paying bills (yuck!). We dint exactly have enough to spare on food we’d never tasted before and we weren’t even sure if we’d have to go look for some fufu to swallow afterwards in order for this sushi to digest. Besides, we always brought lunch from home (much cheaper).

Ok, so it was the day of the date (really, I don’t know what else to call it), one of the ladies drove us to the sushi bar and we left the “inviters” (doubt if that’s a word) to order. Oh my goodness! The food was actually really good. I loved it (at least I loved their selection). Of course I dint waste time trying to use the chop sticks (why bother when there was a fork?) And yeah, I did stink at using chop sticks (why would anyone want to eat with sticks anyways? that of course is a topic for another day).

Sushi done, waitress brings the bill and these ladies take out their cell phones to do the math :o Yep, they split the bill four ways L (these people paa... If I'd known, I'd have eaten more. the food was served on a tray and everyone just ate as much as they could).

Me, I came prepared papa. Matter of fact, I came over-prepared. I paid for myself and even had enough left to sort my Gh friend out (obviously, the money she had on her couldn't cater for her portion of the bill).

Moral of the story: there's nothing like over-preparation (seriously), your assumptions aren't always the truth (when in doubt, seek clarification) and it doesn't really hurt to try new stuff regardless of how weird they seem (who would have thought raw fish tasted good? some of it dint taste so hot though. with those ones, I dint eat too much, but if I'd known I was paying for them, I'd have eaten more papa). And finally, your friends don't always have the best advice (I have another story to illustrate this point. imagine if I'd also showed up with little or no cash).

P.S. my next adventure also has to do with food but it so does not mean I'm all about food (just a coincidence).
P.S.S. I tried Thai food some time eeeh and it was nice papa. This one I dint pay for. Was brought in for lunch during a board meeting at work (how I ate). There's this one with coconut juice in it... mmmmhmmm...

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Other Day I Should Never Have Forgotten...

After my experience the previous semester, I made it a point to leave home 3 hours to the start of each paper, have enough money on me, and make that decision to pick a taxi when it was about 2 hours to the start of a paper, and of course to read all instructions and information on any question paper before answering questions (there's a reason why all that information is printed on the paper).

So it's the next semester, examination time and time for the psychology (the other course I took in Humanities) paper. I get to campus with 2 hours to spare before the start of the paper. I decide to read through material I had on the course and after an hour, I get everything ready.
Pen - check
Pencil - check
Eraser - check
Ruler - check
Correction Pen - check (some of the stuff, I dint really need but I brought them along anyways)
ID card - ???
ID card - ??? (where is my ID card?)
Oh my goodness! I decided to switch handbags that morning and my ID card dint make it during the switch. It was an hour to the start of the paper and obviously impossible for me to go home and make it back in time for the paper. What was I to do?

I decided to make for the exam room and hoped and prayed the invigilators wouldn't hustle me about not having the university ID card. At the entrance, there was this very hard to ignore notice that said students without ID cards would not be allowed to write the exams, but I decided to not see. I went in, found my seat and got comfortable. At this point, it was about 25mins to the start of the paper. At about 10mins to the start of the paper, I asked one of the invigilators if I would be allowed to write the paper since I dint have my ID card with me. He asked if I couldn't read notices :(

The invigilator told me I could get a provisonal ID card at the Registry and thankfully, my exam venue was the Great Hall which really is close to the Registry. I made that decision to go get myself a provisional ID card there and then, cos I knew there was no way I would be allowed to take the paper without an ID card, plus once I see the questions, I wouldn't be allowed to go out unless I was dying or needed to go to the washroom (for some reason they always made us start the paper befor checking for ID cards).

I run as fast as my legs could carry me (without tearing a hamstring of course) and headed on to the Registry and oh my! then it hit me that I just might miss that paper. There was this crowd of people there (apparently I wasn't the only one that needed a provisional ID card that morning). I started psyching myself up to take the course the next year but the thought of all the stress I'd been through that semester (standing during lectures cos the class dint get divided in two like the sociology class and there was just too many of us) just pushed me to the front of the crowd only to find out that the office we were supposed to go into for the provisional ID card was locked.

Turns out one of the staff (he wasn't even a staff. he was a national service personnel) locked the door and came out periodically to take down the names of those standing outside in order to search the computer for their information. I waited for like 10mins and then finally this guy opens the door and comes out. I had my name already written down so I hand the sheet to him, others do same and he heads back inside (of course locking the door behind him). He did come out eventually with printed versions of the information the Registry had on us (that was supposed to be the provisional ID card). I really should have been excited cos I had the provisional ID card, right? WRONG! This was the point where the guy announces that the provisional ID card has to be signed by someone who wasn't even in. Matter of fact, he dint know when she was gon arrive. The guy then goes back in and shuts the door (seriously? I could have murdered him at this point :| ). After another 15mins (the paper had already started), this rather kind gentleman shows up, asks us (the crowd) what we doing there, we explain to him and he makes the mistake of announcing that he can sign for the lady. At this point, the crowd starts heckling him and the huge guys start shoving the small people (myself included) out of the way to make it to the front. The kind getleman makes it into the office and everyone else follows him in. The national service guy, with the help of some staff shove us all right back out and lock the door.

I felt like crying :( Ei! what was I going to do? The paper had been going on for like 20mins. Hmmmm... The kind gentleman really was a kind gentleman cos he unlocked the door after a while and asked us to come in, in an orderly manner (seriously?). Quite a number of the students had their exam venues far from the Registry and they had all started panicking. Most of the girls were crying. I was on the verge of tears but refused to cry (and my exam venue was even quite close). At this point, it was more of survival of the fittest and it sure dint look like I was amongst the fittest.

I looked at my watch, it was 25mins since the paper started, and I knew I had to do something. I wiggled my way to the front of the queue (more like the front of the horde of people) and I wasn't bothered who or what touched which part of my body (trust me, guys were touching places they shouldn't have even been looking at). Finally, I was at the front. The kind gentleman looked up to hand someone their endorsed sheet of paper (ummmm... I mean provisional ID card) and that was when I flashed one of my killer smiles (you'd have to see to judge for yourself :D ). He looked directly at me and asked for my provisional ID card. I handed it over to him, he signed and gave back to me. I said thank you and that's when the tears started flowing. I managed to flash him another killer smile and then I took off.

It was exactly 30mins since the paper started and I run even faster than I did the first time to the exam hall (again, no hamstring injury). I think I forgot to mention I synchronised my watch to the clock in the exam room when I was in there earlier, so I was pretty sure of the time. I made it into the exam room and headed for my seat (thankfully, I knew where it was since I'd been there already). I sat down and an invigilator handed my a question paper. Of course I read all the fine print on it before I started tackling the questions.

Everything was going smoothly (or so I thought) until I heard something like an argument behind me. It was the head invigilator arguing with one of the students. The invigilator was asking this male student to walk out since he saw him walk in 30mins after the paper had started. The student kept insisting that he walked in right when it was 30mins after the start of the paper so technically, he hadn't broken the rules, but the head invigilator would have none of that. The student finally accepted and got up (in my head I was like, thank goodness at least now I can have some peace of mind to think and answer my questions in peace). Not even in my wildest imaginations could I have come up with what happened next.

This student, instead of walking out of the door, made his way towards me. He points at me and says to the head invigilator that he walked in the same time I did so then I should be sent out of the exam room as well. He further added that he was even at the Registry with me getting a provisional ID card and we both left just about the same time (I have never really ever felt like murdering someone ever in my life the way I felt like murdering this guy. honestly, if I had had a gun, I'm sure I'd still be doing time in prison for his murder). I was writing at this point and there and then, my hands started shaking, and all I was writing started to look like a language that wasn't English. I was still writing because I was trying to appear nonchalant. I dint say a word. The student just kept going on and on about how I should be sent out of the exam room, the head invigilator just told him, since he, the invigilator did not see me enter, then he can't send me out. The student would however not let down. This whole thing went on for like 15mins until the head invigilator got some of the other male invigilators to forcibly remove the guy. I don't believe I have breathed in that hard since.

Results came out the next semester and I had an A in the psychology paper (whew!). All I can say is God is still in the miracle business.

Kwaku Doe - The Comeback

It's been a little over 7 years since I started writing about Kwaku Doe. From first talking about him in my  Plight of a Hungry Man  ser...