Just before I left on my 4th mission to Uganda, Yve, my daughter promised to get us some Dim-Sum for a family meal. She described it being dipped into Soya sauce and my mouth watered.
After a while in Ugande I ate enough Tilapia fish, Kasava, Matoke, Pocho, sweat potato and red beans. My taste buds were longing for something else. Kasava is a white root plant turned into a porridge. Matoke is plantain mash, is a banana like plant that has a wild taste. Posho is actually maize meal that is ground and cooked.
I needed to eat something I can recognize.
The first advertisement I noticed was a Chinese restaurant on one of the seven hills of Kampala, called Fang Fang. It conjured up images of ‘Tiger, Tiger shining in the night’.
But it was a simple outside restaurant – the night air in Kampala is so refreshing and cool, even after a long, hot day. There were colourful bulbs hanging on strings. A wedding reception was being held so there was lots of human traffic between the reception area and the bathrooms on the other side of the open grass square.
The light above my table was so dim, that I could hardly read the small print menu.
‘Bring me some light, please!’ I asked
After a long wait the waiter brought a lamp which hardly made any difference at all. So I closed the menu and decided to go with my memory.
‘I would like some Dim-Sum, please.’
The African waiter was confounded. He kept asking me to repeat my order.
Then he called a chinese waitress. Now, I thought, we are getting somewhere.
I repeated my order. She smiled politely and said they don’t have it.
‘What’s the matter with this restaurant?’ I demanded to know.
‘This is Chinese restaurant,’ she reminded me.
How inconsiderate of me.
‘We have dumplings: chicken, beef or pork.’ She explained.
I felt somewhat embarrassed and ordered the dumplings which were too large to eat with the elegant chopsticks. The Chinese tea washed the food away.
But I left not really satisfied that I got what I was looking for. On the other hand I was no longer sure if Di-Sum was a Chinese or a Japanese speciality.
How often do we have wrong expectations in life that lead to disappointment. How often do restaurant waiters not know what is on the menu?
When Yve was a little girl she ordered a Tucan milkshake that they couldn’t make. It upset her.
‘I want a tucan milkshake!’ She insisted. But what she meant was ‘pecan nut flavour.’ A tucan is a colourful tropical bird with a long beak!
When I returned from Uganda, Nola surprised me. When I fetched Hilton at Melkbos after a surf, she had warmed up the Dim-Sum that Yve bought in a proper Japanese bamboo container and the Soya Sauce was waiting next to it. Dim-Sum is small enough to gather with the chopsticks which is part of the playful enjoyment of eating eastern dishes.
I didn’t tell them about my Chinese Restaurant experience. They would laugh at me and I did not feel like being laughed at after just returning home. But a few days later we had a good laugh about it.
When you can laught about something, you are over it!