Patrice Riemens on Wed, 9 Apr 2008 04:47:03 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Meanwhile in Zimbabwe ...

>From the Financial Gazette (Harare)

A Taste Of The Sweet Life

Election day feast at Explorers
Charlotte Malakoff

At the bar, every component was perfect

There were palpable waves of pre-election hysteria last Friday evening in
the Avondale shopping centre.

Last minute shoppers flocked into supermarkets buying up whatever
foodstuffs they could afford, seemingly laying down supplies for a long
siege. Whenever Zimbos are faced with the prospect of a stayaway, a price
increase or a contentious election, their first reaction is to buy food,
and lots of it.

The millennium bug, preparation for which reputedly cost the British
Government £396 million, turned out to be a non-event. In a similar way,
Saturday March 29 dawned bright and clear, and contrary to 'worst case
scenario' predictions, everyone I encountered seemed cheerful, serene and
intent on placing their vote.

As my purchases the day before had not included any food, George and I
decided to eat out before heading for the nearest polling booth.
A pizza or a toasted sandwich would do, so we made our way back to the
Avondale shops. Needless to say, the Italian Bakery and St Elmos were both
closed. Voting is a serious business, requiring concentration and
fortitude: neither of these is present when your stomach is rumbling with
hunger. We decided to make our way to the city.

Milton Avenue, beneath it's shady arch of Jacaranda trees, was deserted.
Samora Machel Avenue resembled a film set for an abandoned city: later we
saw small queues of people waiting to withdraw money from numerous ATMs
along the way. On towards Africa Unity Square, ours seeming to be the only
vehicle on the road, until three giant outside broadcasting vans, parked
outside Meikles Hotel, hove in sight.

Explorers Bar within Meikles Hotel being the obvious choice for lunch, we
entered the quiet hotel lobby. Inside Explorers a similar situation
prevailed - we had the place virtually to ourselves.

Our waiter, who wore a black suit, attended us with the polish and
courtesy of one who has served the needs of diverse customers over many

Bottles of Coke were opened at the table, and poured into elegant glasses,
with just the right amount of ice. The table was laid with silver cutlery
and large white linen napkins, after which we were offered a choice of
freshly baked brown and white rolls. Chilled pats of margarine were
immediately replaced with butter, when requested.

There were two dishes of the day - grilled peri-peri chicken and pork chop
and chips. George was happy with the spicy jongwe, while I found the pork
chop delicious.

I was served two large pork chops, perfectly cooked and masked with rich,
dark gravy tasting truly, madly and deeply of pork. (Some restaurants
would appear to make one pot of gravy, which is poured over every chop on
the menu, whether it be beef, lamb or pork.) French fries were OK, but the
coleslaw salad was exceptional.

I usually avoid coleslaw salad in local restaurants, as it tends to be
clumsily made and tasteless. At Explorers, every component was perfect -
delicious mayonnaise, crisp, thinly sliced cabbage and carrot, and a few
juicy raisins.

There was a touch of genius in a small sprig of tender green lavender
garnish atop the coleslaw. I suspect that there is a chef cloistered
somewhere within the Explorers kitchen, just waiting to break out and make
the big time.

Meanwhile, a lone barfly was downing a Fanta, and speaking loudly to any
one who would listen, about his desire for a new order in Zimbabwe.
'All we need,' he insisted, 'is three meals a day. If change can bring us
three meals a day, that will be fine!' Acknowledging the inertia that
accompanies hunger pangs, I tacitly applauded his statement, before
re-folding my king-size table napkin and departing.

It was time to visit the large white tent in the grass at Gun Hill, where
George and I would dip our fingers in red ink and once again mark our
ballot papers in all the right places.

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