I have been worried that the reason why I felt a little weak on Friday was because I’d not been eating and eating well, so it felt necessary to restock my fridge with the things that matter as far as keeping me healthy and fat is concerned. Did I mention that I will need as much fat as possible on my skin to ward off the cold in winter? I went out shopping with a fellow FLTA here on campus.

Now let me tell you why I had not been eating well.

#1. There have not been plenty familiar food items for me to eat. I have not yet been able to make that St. Louis trip to an African shop to buy òkù èkó and some egúsí soup, so on Thursday, I summoned courage and took my knife to the belly of the ripe plantains I had got from Doug in the Foreign Language department earlier in the week, and cooked it with a little salt. It was a wonder to discover that very few people in America have ever seen a plantain or heard of it. Even Chris the American found it strange, and he kept asking me what it was. How do you explain what a plantain is to someone who hasn’t seen it before? Just tell him it’s an elder brother to the banana. Simple? Well, Chris still couldn’t bring himself to eat it until I forced him to. But that’s another story.

#2. Every time I go out to buy milk – by the way, milk here is sold in large kegs, and not in little cans like in Nigeria – every single one of the milk on sale has this little sign on them that says “Non-fat”, “20% less fat than regular milk”, “non-fattening milk” etc. I mean, seriously, how can I become really fatty before December comes, when everywhere I turn, America is trying so hard to retard my growth and the thickness of my skin?

Now, the #3 and most painful reason why I’d been malnourised is this – and not many people found it funny: everytime on the food line at the cafetaria in the University has always been a certain kind of hell. I would spend fifteen to twenty minutes waiting for my turn at the counter, and when I got there, there was usually a guy or sometimes a girl taking my order. And it would go like this. Note: there’s always bread on the menu.

Choose your bread.

S/he: Hi. Can I take your order.

Me: Yes, please. Can I have a hamburger please.

S/he: A hamburger. What type of bread do you want with it?

Me: What types of bread do you have?

By this time the other guys behind me are a little impatient, having been on the line for a long time themselves.

S/he: We have white, wheat, whole… [and the list goes on]

Me: Well, please give me anyone.

I’ve since realized my folly, because the first day I got a hamburger with a wheat bread, I hated it, then hated myself.

S/he: Okay. Now do you want cheese in it?

Me: No.

S/he: Okay. What of vegetables and the likes?

Me: You know what, I think you should put the cheese.

S/he: Alright, no problem. What kind of cheese do you want?

Me: Oh, what kind of cheese are there?

S/he: Well, we have Swiss cheese, American cheese, cheddar… [and he mentions about two more types.]

By this time, I’m really hungry, and exasperated as well.

Me: Please put any one. [Some times, I also say, “Make it Swiss”.]

After all of the question and answer segment which takes more than five minutes of my precious time, s/he says, “Please wait here. You’re number … and we’ll call you in about ten minutes,” which s/he does when the time comes. The problem is, by that time, I’m either no longer hungry, or already disinterested in the whole food.

I’ve since learnt that the Swiss cheese is better than both American and cheddar. But If you ask me, still I can’t tell the difference.

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