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#38 Claiming to Love Local Food

March 25, 2011

Submitted anonymously

Assuming the trappings of assimilation into the local culture is very important for any Expat Aid Worker. Indeed, the degree to which one can be taken as a legit member of the “I’ve been there” club is often directly proportional to the number of pagne print dresses and/or shirts one owns (or colorful headscarves, depending on where you work), tropical disease episodes and local languages spoken. But nothing says “Real McCoy” like loving the local cuisine. Or at least pretending to.

Is your HCN staff chowing down on crocodile liver? Is doula, millet meal or fufu on the menu? When in the presence of other foreigners, ordering one of these items, and then making conspicuous sounds of enjoyment while you quaff it, will earn you great regard by those who don’t know better.

Has the village headman offered you a bowl of blackish soup from which only a fatty lump of meat and a fish head protrude? Your expat fellow travelers will go wide-eyed with admiration as you gleefully exclaim that yes, you would love a bowl of mongo chobie, in fact it’s been a while since you had a really good serving, and looking expectantly at your friends as you accept his offering.

You know, of course, that they will refuse, claiming upset stomachs to avoid offending the locals. The real reason, you know, is that the bowl of stew that you’re about to gulp down looks pretty disgusting. But you’re just that in touch with the country, aren’t you?

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