Lessons Learned The Hard Way – No. 69

12 06 2008


Always be very careful when ordering food in foreign countries.


It was quite late in the evening and after several weeks of indulging in exquisite falafel, shawarma, feta and mouth-watering kofta, we had an odd craving for some simple and familiar comfort food. The stained and well-thumbed menu in the tiny dining room of our Cairo budget hotel had the solution: chicken burgers, Although a little sad after so much wonderfully fresh fare, they sounded like they’d hit the spot perfectly.


When the waiter returned, I took the liberty of ordering on my own behalf and that of my travel mate.


“We’ll have two chicken burgers, please.” I said. “And a diet Coke”


He scribbled on his note pad and turned to my friend.


“A Fanta, please.” She said.


“And to eat?” He asked her.


“Just the two chicken burgers.” She replied, nodding at me in reference to my order.


With that he smiled and headed to the kitchen, returning moments later with our soft drinks and straws and a promise that the food would follow shortly. After a very long wait that had our eyelids drooping and conversation waning, he eventually came back with a tray overflowing with food. We assumed it was for us and a neighbouring table but instead, he unloaded the entire tray at our table.


A handful of transparently thin paper napkins, a tired plastic squeezy bottle of KingTut KetChup, two pairs of tarnished knives and forks…and four tiny colourless breaded chicken burgers on anaemic buns, garnished with wilted lettuce.


“No, no…we only ordered two chicken burgers” I attempted to explain, holding up two fingers.


“Yes”, he replied, with a broad smile. “Two burgers. For you and for you.” He added, pointing at each of us in turn before bowing and strolling away.


We shrugged and hungrily tucked-in to our double orders, anxious to finish them before anyone else noticed.



Post by: Simon Vaughan © 2008




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