Sunday, December 03, 2006
Jalalabad - Lunch
We had lunch in a different location each day. Each time the food was essentially the same; rice, some kind of meat, sliced vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro), a warm vegetable (potatoes, spinach, squash), naan (flat bread) and fruit for dessert (apples and bananas). Two of the days we were treated to fresh fish. Granted the fish was battered and fried, but it delicious nonetheless.
The first day we ate at an MOD (Ministry of Defense) outpost on the edge of a reservoir formed by the river running through the valley. It was a beautiful location. To look at the buildings, once again you’d think it was a ruin and not a working MOD outpost. We sat on the ground, on carpets and on pillows. To be polite we needed to sit “Indian” style with our legs crossed but since we’re not used to sitting that way it was a challenge. It was one of the first times in my life where my dirty, dusty boot was a mere inches away from the food. The Afghans put the naan right on the table, or in this case, the ground so that was something a squeamish, clean-freak person would have a hard time with. I just figured, “I haven’t gotten sick yet” and hoped that I wouldn’t get sick, which I didn’t. The fruit is overripe so that it’s at it’s sweetest. I ate an apple the first day but it was so mushy I about gagged. After that I politely declined.
(Yes, that's my boot that's sitting there in the plate of lamb and inches from the bread.)
As we sat there by the lake, you could see a village across the water. Just like us, people flock to the water. As I was looking across the water I saw a “jingle-boat” moving across the water. I’ve told you about the “jingle trucks” before, how they’re painted in bright colors and patterns or pictures, well this boat was not to be outdone. Even from a distance I could tell that it fit the “jingle-truck” mode.
The next day we ate at another MOD facility. This time we ate in the commander’s office. We sat around on sofas and love seats and the food was served on the low tables scattered about the room. Like the day before, it was pretty crowded. The thing of note that day was when I sat down in the corner and put my arm on the arm rest, just as I was about to hang my arm over the side of the arm rest noticed a spider web with a big ole spider sitting there. I about jumped out of my seat but managed to stay composed and did my best to ignore the spider that I’m sure was just sitting there eyeing me, wondering where and how he could bite me.
Our final lunch was at one of the police chief’s homes. It was a big, beautiful home. It really “pays” to be in crime prevention here. Can you hear the sarcasm dripping from my voice? This chief was only in his mid-thirties and had accumulated a vast amount of wealth in a short period of time. Do you see where I’m going with this?
This time, the eating accommodations were the best. The food was just as good but served in serving bowls, on real plates (they still had the price tags on them) with real silverware. At the first place, it was all eating with your hands, using the bread as a spoon. Again, we were served fresh fish. The legal officer from the 2nd Brigade ate as much fish as he could get his hands on. There was a lot of laughing as he ate. When I asked Wais what was so funny he said that the other Afghans were saying that the fish were an aphrodisiac and the legal officer was getting his fill so that when he got home that night...well you can guess the rest.
Anyone got some fish??