Of Much Needed Food Etiquette

May 24th, 2019 / Peter Petty
| Mouthwatering salad

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Uganda is home to some of the continent’s best cuisines. That our neighbours, the Kenyans, only get to have either rice or kaunga is a cause for bragging rights. It is almost unheard of for a Ugandan restaurant not to offer at least 3 kinds of foods in their meals. We are blessed that ours are fertile soils where we can grow a variety of crops.

Then enter some of you who choose to abuse this privilege.

I was invited for a fancy dinner two weeks back. It was one of those dinners where they prescribe the dress code beforehand. You know the ones where you get to rub shoulders with ambassadors and stinking members of parliament? Anha those ones!

I arrived on time and got myself a seat in the corner of the room. I watched as guests sauntered in. Firm handshakes. Awkward hugs. I saw them all. My observation was interrupted by a plump face that sweated profusely. He leaned towards my ear and asked if anyone had taken the seat. I shrugged and said no one had. The fat bastard eased his entire body load unto the hapless chair startling the table in the process. I knew the food was done for.

Big Shot just could not wait to indulge himself. As soon as our table was cleared to get food, he quickly shot up despite his weight and sprinted towards the food. (It was a sprint for a man his weight) He heaped his plate with loads of food that even the stewards couldn’t help but turn away in disgust.

You know how service providers these days have small plates to prevent people like Big Shot from eating excessively? Well Big Shot scoffed at that trick. He got himself a tray and heaped rice and drumsticks on it as well. So he had two plates. The tray just carried whatever could not fit on the main plate. Despite the surface area of the tray, mans ensured that there was enough soup to create a trail wherever he moved.

I tried to look for mans after the event to get to know him more. I thought he represented some unknown constituency. That kind of greed can only be equated to these unintelligent Members of Parliament that we have.

Our poor eating habits as a country are manifested in the way our children appear these days. I have always wondered why the obese children are always frequenting Café Javas and KFC. It is because their parents have left them with no alternative. These days, parents proudly flaunt their overweight progenies under the guise of healthy feeding when in truth, these chaps are consuming litres of oil each week.

Next, I feel the need to talk about those who overestimate their eating abilities and end up wasting food. What the hell, man? Why would you prompt Capital Kitchen to put up a sign beseeching you to be at your best behaviour? Like I just do not get it. You walk into a restaurant and you do not know how hungry you are?

How about those who make slurping sounds while they eat? What is your deal? If this is a weakness that you harbour, the preventative measure is that you eat with your mouth closed. But no, these ones cannot allow that to happen. They will want to talk and to breathe while they chew, so their mouth will definitely be open.

I am also developing the urge to talk about those of you who use your fingers as tooth picks and feeding aids. Piece of meat is stuck between your teeth. You’ve got long fingernails. Dig in, why don’t you? And eat the very piece of meat that you took out. Been eating some matooke and some is stuck at the roof of your mouth? Pick it out with your finger. It is fine. It is okay. It starts out like that personal thrill and develops into a personal embarrassment.

I think we need to have a conversation about our eating habits as a nation. We need to encourage those who eat like the world is about to cave in, that it is fine to talk about their feelings with a trusted counsellor.

We need to encourage those who waste food that there are so many who could do with the meal. We should encourage those who slurp at food, that there is nobility in silence. Most importantly, we need to tell our barbarian habits, that there is grace in using the tongue in helping us eradicate the matooke from the roofs of our mouths. But also, that we can wait for a toothpick to take away the inconvenience sticking between our teeth.

Let us continue the conversation on Twitter. Follow me @PeterPetty

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