Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lunch Lost in Translation

After a week or so in Batticaloa, I had to travel back to Colombo since I was scheduled to leave the next day for Manila. Yahoo! Couldn't wait to go back home. The road trip from Batticaloa to Colombo takes approximately 8 hours - this includes an hour lunch break. I do not want to travel 8 hours straight without having lunch. This would just make me dizzy and irritable. The driver and I need food :-)

"Do you want to eat fish and fries?", Mohammed, the driver, asked.

"Sure", I replied with a matching grin. Wow fish and fries, fish and chips. It just kept playing in my mind. Couldn't wait for our lunch. Must be authentic fish and chips. Afterall, Sri Lanka was once under British rule. I could hear my stomach making small growling sounds since it was already past noon.

Both sides of the two way street were lined with so many trees and greenery. A refreshing sight indeed. It was 12:30 and there was no restaurant in sight just trees.

"We're passing through the jungle", the driver quipped.

Hmmm, I am now more hungry than ever.

"We will be stopping at Dambullah," Mohammad added.

"Ok, great", I replied, as I mentally imagine the golden brown, crispy fish and chips I would have in a few minutes.

We finally stop near a small nipa hut. Hmmm, bathroom break, I wonder.

"Let me check if they have food prepared," the driver informed me as he got down the vehicle.

Oh, does this place serve fish and chips, I asked myself. I finally get down as Mohammad sends me hand signals that there is food. Can't wait. Lunch is actually my main meal for the day so it has to be something yummy.

As I walk towards the nipa hut, I noticed the uncemented floor, the tables covered with sturdy plastic wrap that showed some discoloration probably due to much use and the buffet-oh wow- which had four small claypots of typical sri lankan food. Inside these claypots were steamed rice, a salad of onions and tomato sprinkled with a bit of lime, potato curry, roasted/fried eggplant with something like our local alamang or shrimp paste. 

The star of the buffet was the fish, which at that point lay uncooked in a small plastic bowl covered with soy sauce and some other liquid marinade with flies hovering around the bowl. That didn't look appetizing at all plus I don't really like fish to start with. Anyway, it was a choice between eating and going hungry for the next four hours. So of course, I'd much rather eat.

I followed Mohammad's lead and took a plastic plate and filled it with the food that was laid out on the buffet table. No fork and spoon here so we ate with our hands, picnic style. As soon as we sat down at one of the benches, the fried fish arrived. Fried until golden, this was the best tasting fish I have ever tried in Sri Lanka. No fishy taste just a big chunk of white meat. It's so good that you'll keep going back for more rice and salad.

I didn't get the fish and chips I so much desired but on the other hand, I did have some delicious tasting fish with salad. And so goes the fish and chips story. I heard wrong. What Mohammad meant was fish and rice. Don't really know how that happened. Maybe I was so hungry that I was conjuring images of what I desired subconsciously. My brother says maybe the driver meant meant fish and flies and not fish and rice. Well, that's my brother always has some funny retort. He meant it as a joke of course not to put anyone down. He always says that I'm so picky when it comes to eating out and loves teasing me. He would probably be happy if I was ever served some crispy flies. Until the next food adventure.

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