Friday, January 8, 2010

African Carnivore

Lets talk about food – because that's all today was about. Food. I did absolutely nothing all day. This is true. I woke up, had breakfast – toast bread with this weird jam jelly spread that tastes like i don't know what – but it's red and delicious – and cereal with milk that lasts 6 months before going off (i don't know...) and then that was it. I bunkered down for the day.

I watched tv, I read my book, I watched more TV. Dennis the Menace? What a terrible cartoon. You think it was terrible, but you don't really appreciate how terrible it is until you're in Joburg watching it, cause any other activity has a 50% chance of leaving you dead.

Well it does in my mind anyway, 'cause my mind is a hell of a place.

Fact: Joburg has the highest concentration of awesome street art. And no, I still can't take pictures of it. I just see it as I drive, quickly, past. That's really the best way to enjoy it – right? No... curses.

I've been told my outlook is a refreshing one. Everything is an adventure. Even walking to the street. Who knows what danger lurks around what corners? Here's the thing – I've wandered around, on my own, through lion preserves. I mean, it was by accident, but still, and yet I won't go down the street to buy juice from the corner store.

I miss juice. Honest and true. Remember all that juice I drank in Europe? I want juice back now. In mass quantities.

Anyway, then seven o'clock pm came around and food became the factor again.

Colin came and grabbed me so as we could head out to dinner. This is a good guy. He lives a good thirty minutes from my hostel, and the restaurant is an hour from there – this is at the very least three hours of driving for him so he could take me out to dinner. I owe a lot of people a lot of stuff if they ever come visit me back home. But then that's what travelling is like, isn't it? You realize that there are really fantastic people in this world. Even in terrifying places like Joburg. Seriously – walked around a lion park, but not down the street to get milk.

So we drive into the middle of nowhere, where I'm reminded that I'm safe, once more, and then told to lock the doors – seriously people, why does that always, without fail, follow the “you're safe” line? And the fact that the needle was running near empty of the fuelometer? That was filling me with confidence. Luckily we couldn't get lost as Homer Simpson's voice was guiding us all the way – constantly interrupting my impromptu learning about the South African parliamentary system, which I found quite enlightening. I never care to learn about a country until I'm there, and then I'll be enthralled to hear anything about it. My guide was quite learned on the subject too. If I was asked the same about Canada I would have froze and redirected the question to something about Battlestar Gallactica. Why not?

So where did we go for dinner? A little place called Carnivores. What makes it so special you might ask? Well it's a fixed prince menu, so you just sit down – and then the onslaught that is your potentially never ending feast begins. All I could think of was how much Tsangerang would absolutely love to be here. And it pained me that I will never get to share in the thrill of eating here with him. So this next part, it's dedicated to you Monsieur Tsangerang:

You sit down at the table, and then drop this giant turning table of sauces – cranberry, garlic, apple, chili, and it goes on and on. Then on the second level are the salads. Greek, coleslaw, corn and pineapple (which you think is distressing – and i thought so too – but it works, it really works,) and of course there are more.

Then a man comes and throws a whole load of bread on the table, you saw it in half, and think that it's a trick, a trick to fill you up, but the homemade butter is too much of a draw, and you devour it. And it is good! And then they bring out the soup, and you still have no idea what's going on, because people are just bringing you food but it's cream of spinach, and since you like both those things you dig into it. Then the soup disappears, and the magic hit parade that is carnivores begins. And you'd cry – you'd literally shed tears of joy – if you had any idea what was next to follow.

A South African flag is placed atop your salad/sauce wheel. This will become important later on. But worry not of it yet, for now is the time of the feast.

You see, for the next – however long you want – men with giant spits of meat will come to your table, and shave it off with knives that could easily slit your throat, and find themselves just in range and position to do such a deed, but fear not – for these spit handlers are professionals. You hope. And first they bring you beef, would you like some? Of course.

Then before you can eat that, the next man is on you with kudu sausages, followed by pork ribs, then some sort of antelope you've never heard of hits the plate. You eat as fast as you can, but new men with new meats keep coming. Eland is devoured, some chicken, crocodile – which is a trap, because in the time it takes to debone it, your plate will be filled high by other exotic treats, and lamb, and it just goes on and on. And every day is different.

Every day they have different games. Sometimes zebra, sometimes springbok. Who knows what treats await you? It's an all you can eat buffet without the pesky need of having to walk and fill your plate yourself. Because who needs that hassle? And it's good. It's all good. And you keep eating, and you keep eating, and after hours you find yourself full. You're not sure how you got this way, and it shames you to admit it, but you can eat no more. And here is where you'll cry once more, but not out of joy, but out of painful sorrow.

When you have had enough – or all that you can stuff inside yourself without causing you bowels to rupture – you need to surrender. You need to submit. You need to take the South African flag from its proud position and cast it down on the table before you. And then the plates will all be cleared, and you can select a dessert from their extensive menu.

But there is no pleasure in this desert. There is no sense of accomplishment. Only a sense of hallowed failure. And you know, you understand, that there is no way to win. There will never be a way to win. Each time you go, you will have to submit. No congratulatory sparkler awaits your valiant effort. Only flag lowering defeat.

And though you had a lovely meal, and a lovely time, with lovely people – you just can't help feeling as you've lost a little bit of yourself, devoured by the god awful carnivore.


  1. I have to say that place beats mandarin anyday, that is somewhat an accomplishment no?

  2. you know, carnivore was good - but i don't know i'd go that far... where else can you get pepperoni pizza with sweet an sour sauce, with a side of Belgium waffles?

  3. I approve of your efforts to eat every animal in the savannah.


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