Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Food at Princess Marina Hospital

My team was on call tonight and it was relatively busy – we got 4 patients, but all of them were handled well. There were some interesting cases, but instead of talking about medical stuff I think I’ll talk about food at the hospital a little bit.

The cafeteria is run by the restaurant Moghul, which is right down the street from our flats. The restaurant serves decent Indian food (so I’m told) but the cafeteria makes very affordable and excellent local (Botswana) food. It’s just one counter long, so there’s not much selection, but it’s always very good, and a full meal is about P14, which is only a little more than $2!

At the cafeteria, you choose from a selection of starches, such as rice, pap (maize meal), sometimes samp, sometimes dumplings (which I think are just these huge balls of steamed or boiled bread), and a one other thing I’m not familiar with – and they cover this with a little bit of sauce. Then you can either get chicken or red meat, and you get a hot vegetable. A common red meat dish is seschwa, which is sort of like pulled pork, but with beef and without the sauce. It looks pretty nondescript and boring, but it’s really really good. The often also have beef stew or oxtail stew. Being a red meat fan, I rarely get the chicken, but it’s often stewed, grilled or fried chicken with sauce. The hot vegetable can be cabbage, spinach (which is not exactly like our spinach), creamed spinach, carrots, and a few other possibilities, depending on the day. But there is just one vegetable made per day.

Further on down the counter, you then get 2 or sometimes 3 different salads – they make regular lettuce salad, sometimes there’s a potato salad, sometimes bean salad (which is basically cold baked beans), and sometimes there’s carrot or beet salad. All in all, it’s a huge amount of food, and I usually eat it all! As a result, my lunches have become the main meal of the day, and sometimes I barely eat any dinner at all because I’m so stuffed from lunch. The only thing is, you have to make sure you get there before 1:30 because the cafeteria starts to run out of food.

More recently, I’ve been going outside of the hospital to eat lunch. Right outside the hospital entrance there are many options for food. Some people have small tables set up where they have food in several pots and the food is very similar to what’s in the cafeteria, but cheaper and with much less selection. For example, for P10 you can get pap, seschwa, and spinach, but those are your only choices, and you get a little less food than you would at the cafeteria (which I actually welcome). There are also people in small huts selling food – there they have some pots too, and you can get a small little bowl of food (like chicken or beef stew or something) for like P4. They also have this pita-like thick bread called papata for P1 which is great to eat with the stew. Some of the huts also sell fresh-fried chips! They are so good. They come fresh out of the deep fryer into your little blue plastic bag, which you then take to the table to sprinkle on salt, vinegar, and hot pepper. It’s soooo good and it’s only P4! Lastly, my favorite is the sausage guy. He grills huge homemade sausages right there outside the hospital, puts them in a bun, and adds whatever toppings you want (mustard and tomato sauce – what they call ketchup here). It’s the most amazing sausage ever, and only for P6.

Another alternative is to walk the 10 minutes to the Main Mall, which is an outdoor mall. There are two pie places there (that sell meat and vegetarian pies) that are pretty good, a bunch of fast food, and again people selling food on the street. There are several sausage guys here, and they have small tables with women selling food in pots as well as grilling up big pieces of steak. They also have a few large groups of people who have set up long rows of tables with food in pots – the equivalent of the pot ladies, but super-supersized. They have even more choices than the cafeteria, and it’s only P12! And you can stuff as much as you can into your takeaway container – I’ve seen people pile it on incredibly high, with 3 or 4 different meats and tons of veggies. Also a 5 minute walk away is the museum - which serves similar food to the cafeteria at basically the same price, but there is a nice environment to eat it in. You eat at outdoor round tables, shaded by these grass roofs, and we often have our bi-weekly feedback sessions there.

Ironically, today, I was actually a little tired of stuffing myself every day and actually brought lunch – a salami and cheese sandwich. I think I just felt like eating something American for once, but it all worked out because when I got home, Lisa had made lasagna (sort of) and salad. So I ate a big dinner. :)

1 comment:

ludarl said...

Hello Jo,

It's very refreshing to see someone blogging about Botswana. I can almost smell the foods from the Main mall and can picture the tables of sweets outside Princess Marina.

Good job!