Yesterday I had lunch with an unexpected guest. Half an hour earlier I was slaving away for my boss as usual when I suddenly heard my stomach grumbling. I decided to call the office canteen on the internal phone line and place my order. I even insisted that the food should be warmed up and reserved for me. I was told that everything would be done as requested. Fifteen minutes later I went downstairs to the canteen to check if my food was ready. It was covered, warm and ready to be served so I went over to one of the vacant tables that wasn’t directly in front of the head-numbing air conditioner. I bumped into a junior colleague whom had just finished eating lunch and was on his way out. As he was still chewing what seemed to be a stubborn piece of goat meat, I asked him how his lunch was. He gave me a ‘thumbs up’, probably because he didn’t want to respond with his mouth full.
With that sign of approval I was really looking forward to my meal. Apparently he had the same thing I was about to have - Eba and Ewedu with stew (Pounded Cassava with a watery vegetable soup topped with a peppery tomato gravy). Most of my colleagues had already had their lunch earlier so I was sitting at a table all by myself…at first. I attacked the first wrap of Eba and had gulped down half of the Ewedu soup, which I must say was deeeeeeelicious. The best thing about Ewedu soup is that it is so plain and thin that you wouldn’t expect to see anything other than liquified green leaves with no extras. But as I poked my fork into the bowl of soup again I pulled out my guest whom I had been dining with all this while. It was a baby roach.
Well I say it was a ‘baby roach‘ but this 1-inch, 6 legged, lifeless insect was more like a teenager – any bigger and it would have been a ‘cockroach‘ complete with wings! I immediately lost my appetite. I dropped the roach and my side plate and called the canteen attendants. I would love to say that I took advantage of this classic ‘Waiter, Waiter, what is this roach doing in my soup?’ moment and then I got the response ‘Looks to me like the breaststroke, sir!’…but sadly, that wasn’t what happened. The canteen attendant was shocked. I left the food in disgust and went back upstairs to continue punching (rather aggressively) on my keyboard. Some minutes later the chief chef came up to me and the old lady began to beg for my forgiveness. If ‘forgiveness’ meant saying ‘apology accepted’ then that was alright. But if it meant that I was to continue patronizing her cuisine then she had another thing coming!If I wanted roach soup for lunch then I guess things would have worked out perfectly. She stood by my side for about 5 minutes begging but I just wanted to get on with my work without her encroaching my territory.
The fact that I have a phobia for cockroaches, also known as Katsaridaphobia (fearofstuff.com), doesn’t make matters any better. I can recall an article I wrote in 2009 on the same issue where I made this perfectly clear. In the end, the chef wanted to give me a free drink as some kind of peace offering. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a nice lady but I didn’t like her approach. Was a can of malt really going to make a difference? I think a bottle of Dettol would have been more appropriate, don’t you think?