Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oshivambo hangover breakfast in Katutura

Sunday morning I was lying in bed, thinking about doing laundry (only thinking, mind you), when Wi11bed0ne called me, in her usual fashion, to tell me that she was taking me out to lunch at this restaurant called Xwama. Luckily this was at 11:30AM and not 7AM like she had called the day before, but I had actually gone to bed at 7AM that morning so I was feeling just as tired, and maybe a little hungover.

We stopped off at one of the university residences at Polytech to pick up Micheal, Darko, and this French guy whom I had found out the night before was twenty-three years old. We also brought along this guy that we had met at the party the night before, who was one of those Americans who claim not to be very American because they’ve lived all over the world and haven’t lived in America in a long time, but still act like a stereotypical American when it came to cultural sensitivity to the local.

Xwama is a restaurant in Katutura specializing in traditional Oshivambo food. Wi11bed0ne used to come here with her friends quite regularly. It’s a cute little building looking like a big hut, dirt floors, bright coloured fur decorations on the wall, waitresses donning those lovely pink Oshivambo coloured aprons, and chandeliers made of Tafel beer (very traditional).

We ordered a jug of traditional beer. Nobody was sure they liked it at first, but we were surprised to discover that the more we drank it, the more we liked it.

more, more

A waitress came with a different jug and washed our hands. I like this tradition.

Even though Wi11bed0ne and Micheal are Herero, they explained the table etiquette to us. You must eat with your hands, and only your right hand. This was difficult for me because I am left-handed, and I prefer to use chopsticks above everything else. Also, when you are pouring someone’s drink, you must serve it with both hands, but not before you sip it first to prove that it’s not poisoned. I like this tradition better.

We basically ordered everything off the menu: mahangu porridge, matangara tripe, wild spinach, more mopane worms, and oschivambo chicken. Not all of this was easy to eat with your hands (like, the pap porridge). Wi11bed0ne claimed the chicken neck as soon as the dish arrived.

The one thing we didn’t order was the smilie, that is, goat’s head, so named because when you cook the goat and the face muscles’ tense up, the goat looks like it’s smiling. It’s supposed to be delicious. I wanted to order it, but the guys claimed to be a bit too hungover that morning to take up the challenge. Ah well, next time.