Lunch #3: Masala Dosa From Masala Dosa With The Woman With No Face

Today I took a friend with me to Long Street for lunch. I cannot tell you her name, because she is famous in internetty ways and she doesn’t like being famous. Or at least she doesn’t like me sneaking up on her in the office, taking pictures of her and then putting her name and face in my crummy blog. So today I went for lunch with the Woman Who Shall Be Known As The Woman With No Face. (WWSBKATWWNF, for short. TAFKAP, eat your heart out.)

Here is a picture of her:

The Woman With No Face: Officially Approved Portrait

The Woman With No Face is a vegetarian. She is enlightened in that way. She is also quite hard to please, so I was a little nervous about the lunch. I broke the ice by encouraging her to run across the road in front of an oncoming Cape Town Tourism Bus. The tourist in the front on the upper deck gaped at us like a frozen haddock in a fishmonger’s window. I took this to be a Good Omen. (A note on omens: if you pay attention, they are all around you. You just need to know what to look out for.)

We walked briskly down Long Street, pausing only for me to look at a pair of ruffled denim shorts (only R120 – on sale) and to photograph a passing gorilla. The Woman With No Face kept walking, forcing me to run to catch up. She does not pause for ruffled denim shorts or gorillas. This should give you an idea of the pressure I was under.

A passing gorilla on Long Street. They are not as common as they used to be.

Fortunately, on my way back from The Coffee Bar That Was Murdered By Its Own Wallpaper yesterday, I noticed a little place that looked pink, vegetariany and that might take credit card. (I keep running out of cash.) So we went directly to this restaurant, where I asked the Lovely Indian Man whether they served any vegetarian food. Amazingly, they did.

We sat down. I gave The Woman With No Face the bench seat, because I knew she would prefer it. Also, I have a hard time concentrating on conversations, so it was good to be staring at a wall that showed a digital blow up of an enormous bosom and a hand holding a platter of indiscriminate vegetables.

We consulted the menu. I was alarmed, because everything on the menu was over R30, my maximum lunch budget. I decided to make it a special occasion and settled for ordering the cheapest meal on the menu: the masala dosa (R42) and a glass of water (free). The Woman With No Face followed suit, although she didn’t order the water.

I was very happy with my decision when the meal arrived:

My glass of water and my Masala Dosa, with that of The Woman With No Face in the background.

After appreciating the little turmeric decoration and being given instructions on how to tear, fill and dip our dosas by the Lovely Indian Man, we ate with gusto. Afterwards, The Woman With No Face said that she had enjoyed the lunch and that she might even come for lunch with me again, even though I owe her R5 on the bill.

Look out for this sign if you have R42 and want a nice vegetarian lunch.

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Lunch #2: The Mango Lassi From The Coffee Bar That Was Murdered By Its Own Wallpaper

I’m starting to think it’s possible that decor might have an influence on the success of an eatery. Then again, maybe not. You tell me.

The coffee bar I bought lunch from today is about to die. I thought it was just quiet because it was lunchtime and in my head, coffee’s more of a breakfast thing. So I asked the woman, is it busier at breakfast?

She shrugged and said, No, in fact we’re closing next week because it’s so quiet.

For good? I asked.

Yes, she said.

Oh, I said.

So I ordered a Mango Lassi (R23 for the 500ml size) and spent the time it took to make trying to figure out why nobody else comes to this coffee bar.

It couldn’t be the location. I mean, it’s Long Street. It’s where people come to eat.

It couldn’t be the menu. Sandwiches, wraps, curries, muffins, smoothies, lassis… It’s not like they’re trying to sell insect stir-fry. (Although I’d be right there if they were – I saw a talk on TED once about eating insects and I’m all for it. Definitely theoretically anyway.)

It couldn’t be the staff. Despite impending unemployment, they were cheerful, friendly and efficient. They had a good vibe going.

So I thought, maybe it’s the wallpaper.

Here it is. You decide.

Possibly eaterycidal wallpaper.

Lunch #1: The Dodgy Boerie Roll And The Boy From Bonteheuwel

Who says there are no crazy adventures to be had just outside your front door? Okay, lots of people have acknowledged there are. But how many of them actually go and have one on a day at the office? My current quest is to find an adventure every lunch break. I’m lucky enough to work within walking distance of one of Cape Town’s most epic adventure locations: Long Street. I’m also lucky enough to get the chance to take an hour off between 1 and 2pm most weekdays to go in search of sustenance.

I have decided to share this quest with you. And so, today I present: The Dodgy Boerie Roll and The Boy From Bonteheuwel, a photographic food safari.

Where to go for lunch today? A ray of light from on high directed the way.

Yep, I simply stopped at the first place I saw. And this was what I saw…

Cold, turgid boerie and cold oily onion. I’m hungry, but am I this hungry?

Dammit! I am a brave African adventurer. I have eaten camel. I can eat this.

Also, I have lots of Scottish ancestors. And it’s cheap.

I had a long conversation with the guy behind the skillet while we waited for the boerie and onions to heat up again. During this time, I ascertained the following.

  • He had cooked the boerie and onions only this morning, so they were definitely fresh.
  • He was from Bonteheuwel. Bonteheuwel used to be a bad place, but it’s calmed down a lot since 2002. In fact, these days Long Street is a more dangerous place than Bonteheuwel, in his opinion.
  • Nobody would bother his customers, however, because he takes care of his customers. He used to live on the streets, but a documentary maker helped him sort out his life.

Nobody messes with this guy’s customers.

He directed my attention to the block across the road. This used to be inhabited by drug dealers. It’s been cleared out now, but the drug dealers still hang around every night.

The former drug dealers’ headquarters. Apparently it’s being renovated for decent people to move in.

At last the boerie was warmish. Mohammed (for that was his name) put it all in a roll while I staved off pleas from a self-professed starving Zanzibari (who really didn’t look all that starving, I promise). I sauced my roll and departed.

These are the sauces. I recommend the Mustard and Tomato sauces. They taste exactly as you would expect.

“See you tomorrow!” called Mohammed.

“If I’m still alive,” I thought.

One bite into the boerie roll. It’s three hours later and I’m still feeling fine. Result!

Photos taken with crappy purple BlackBerry 8520. Yes, I am the world’s laziest professional photographer.