You can’t just order one falafel! the waiter said.

It was noon and the Congolese capital was offering lunch.  I chose “Noura”, a lebanese fast food place on the Ave Foch (that may not be the current name).  Very popular, with dozens of offerings, and honestly priced.  As a diabetic vegetarian my choices tend to be very limited in any menu anywhere.  I knew the place so I went straight for the Falafel, a packaged meal that has been good to me over the years.

The price was about 4$.  I asked for one and a diet cola.  The congolese waiter said: two? No, I said, I would like the falafel on the menu that is sold for the 4$.  That is the item I want, I repeated.  We went back and forth between the one and the two.  He was getting impatient, and I finally understood that it was the policy of the restaurant not to bother with just one falafel, and the owners must have drilled their staff that they should convince customers to order two for 8$ because it was not worth their time to cook just one falafel at a time.  As I was in a hurry to catch my flight back to the coast I said ok, two falafels will do, one here, and the other one I would keep with me and have it for dinner.

So, I got back to my Anita Brookner novel and the received the cola.  No, I said, not this cola, but the famous light one.  The can came and as it was warm, he offered ice cubes.  Two pages later the young waiter came and said: we have no falafels today! I thanked him and asked for a cheese sandwich. When it came I opened to check on the cheese, and it was nicely grated.  My next falafel will be in the Cedre restaurant in Pointe-Noire, the one after in the Rue St.Andre des Arts in Paris or in the Rue du Temple (that is where they are supposed to be of an excellent nature), the one after in Rosebank Mall in Joburg, and the one after that in Haifa.

Some of us have obsessions.


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