Oct 8, 2009

Street food (2)

Waiting at Bratislava Hlavna Stanica, I decided I was in need of sustenance. Outside are several kiosks selling selling different things, local things, that locals buy. Interesting, new things. Buying something unseen in a language you don't understand is always risky, but often so very rewarding. I really wanted one of the glistening red sausages, but they seemed suspiciously cheap. Instead I just copied the woman in front of me - if she is buying it, it can't be too scary. Or can it?

Prosím? the saleslady called.
Hamburger v žemli, prosím. Hamburger v žimli, please. Point in the direction of the label, because I don't know how to handle the v. Or the ž. And žemli was an unknown word. Now I know it means bun, which still doesn't explain much.
Jeden? With applicable gesturing.
Áno. Yes, one is enough.
She says something more, I hand over a bit more than the amount I saw on the menu, just to be safe. She picks up something from behind the slightly oily glass, slips it into a bag, hands it to me with change.
D'akujem. Thank you.

Transaction successful. Now, a moment to admire my acquisition: it consists of a large bun, with something light brown, battered, then deep-fried in the middle. Nothing else. It's not really warm, just about body temperature. I have no clue as to what's inside, but another woman a few nights before had identified similar objects as chicken. Maybe it's schnitzel?

The bun was stale, as I suppose is fair for station food at 7am. The chewy, flavourless stale that comes from keeping it vaguely warm for days on end. Forcing my teeth through the bun, it encountered the centre. It was squishy. Yes, that's the right word. Slightly elastic, yet soft, with a light squelch as you bite it. It was pink. And had a generic processed meat flavour.

My stomach turned. I struggle with some processed things. Pink, deep-fried pretend-meaty things especially. But in order to be culturally sensitive and suitably appreciative, I persevered. Another bite. People eat this every day. Chew. Chew. Swallow. Breath. Maybe not the same people everyday, but still. Bite. Chew. Chew. Swallow. It's not that bad, if you ignore the lack of taste, texture and appeal. Bite. Chew. Others go hungry. Chew. Swallow. Swallow again. It gets easier with every bite. I wish I had some water to drink.

I made it halfway through, before I gave up. I discreetly, guiltily, slipped the rest into my bag for disposal at a later stage. Into a bin at the "Complex Ticket Service" counter, to be exact.

3 comments:

Marie said...

Beaks 'n feet.

arcadia said...

dit lyk aaklig. as ek saam met jou was sou jy dit alleen eet.

jvdh said...

M - I'm not thinking about it anymore. Some things can not be un-tasted.

A - Ek's seker die Spar by die drankwinkel kan jou van iets soortgelyks voorsien...