I want to relay for you all the conversation that just happened between me and a waiter here at the hotel restaurant in Lagos, before its level of ridiculousness fades in my mind. The back story is basically that I wanted to order eba, which is a dough made out of cassava flour that is boiled and then pounded into a soft cone that you can use to sop up soups and sauces, along with chicken in stew, which is this yummy, spicy red sauce served over chicken. Here is how my attempt to order went down:
Me: Yes, I'd like the fish pepper soup, and --
Waiter: (incredulously) You eat African food?
Me: Yes, why?
Waiter: No, I just asked. No reason. People say Nigerian food is very spicy. Usually people from foreign countries don't eat it. (Pointing to part of menu I was trying to order from) This is AFRICAN menu. (Pointing to page on menu with "spaghetti" listed on it) This is other menu.
Me: No, I eat African food. I like spicy food.
Waiter: (still incredulous) Okay...
Me: Okay, so I want the fish pepper soup, the eba, and the chicken in stew, please.
Waiter: NO NO NO NO NO. You cannot eat eba with stew, you must eat it with a SOUP.
Me: But isn't chicken in stew kind of soupy?
Waiter: NO NO NO NO NO. This is impossible. It is impossible. I tell you, this is not done. You must order a SOUP with eba. Only a soup.
Me: But can't I just use the eba to eat with the sauce?
Waiter: NO NO NO NO. Only soup. It is impossible to eat eba with stew. No no no no.
Me: Um. Okay, I guess I won't get the eba. I'll have rice instead.
Waiter: Okay, rice, NOW you understand. Very good.
He then swept off to put in our orders and returned to deliver our drinks and two pieces of bread (there were three of us). After my colleagues ate their bread, one of them asked our waiter if we could have another piece, since there were three of us, after all. The waiter's response: "No... well, yes, but I will have to charge you extra." Our response: "Yeah, never mind."