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beachfront property
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10 yrs of freedom
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view from atop Table Mountain
Cape Town, South Africa; Nov 8, 2004

unfast food

Well, it happened again today. We made the mistake of waiting until we were actually hungry to find a restaurant. Bad idea; food service is generally quite slow here.

It makes us realize how “American” we are; we like to enjoy a leisurely meal with the best of them, but once in a while we want our food fast. In this case, we chose a burrito place (being from California, the epicenter of American burritos, we wanted to see what a South African burrito was like). The sign above the door read “Good Food Fast.” So we walked in and ordered. There were two tiny tables to sit down, but it was so bloody hot from the nearby kitchen that we waited outside. That wasn’t the greatest idea either since it isn’t the best part of town (loitering around outside a dive-ish restaurant door is bound to make you a target for whoever walks by). So, due to the lack of a good place to hang out while our burritos were assembled, we were disappointed to end up waiting over half an hour. Burritos just aren’t that complicated. Maybe they sent someone out of the country to actually fetch them or something. (Oh, and by the way, if you ever go to South Africa, there is no need for you to sample the burritos.)

Another funny example is a restaurant whose marketing ploy is that the time it takes from when you order lunch until when you get your bill is only 59 minutes! Compare this to a nifty little restaurant back in San Francisco that will serve you a hot sandwich and salad in 5 minutes or it’s free, and… well, it’s no comparison. Heck, compare it to any restaurant where Americans eat during their lunch hour and it doesn’t stand up so well. The funny thing is, the 59-minute claim only references when you get your bill – your food may take 50 of those minutes to arrive.

The point of all this being that either a) South Africans really don’t ever have the need (or the desire?) to get their food fast, or b) there’s an incredible business opportunity for somebody to introduce the idea of fast-yes-we-really-mean-it-food here. After some debate (and continued experiences at places ranging from nice restaurants to coffee shops), we think it’s (a).

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