Wednesday, June 2, 2010

God's Creatures

Yesterday in the kitchen, we got news that tonight they would be bombing. This means that the exterminator is coming for his monthly visit, as they should in all food service facilities. It requires that the stewards cover and wrap any utensil used in food production: pans, plates, silverware, etc. It is a long a tedious job, but kind of breaks up the monotony of a dishwasher's daily chores.

I reminisced of the kitchen in Djibouti. It is a dream for a professional chef to open brand new kitchens. Everything is clean, new equipment, fresh menus and ideas; it's absolutely wonderful and inspiring. After a couple of months in Djibouti, I was checking over the Kitchen Department's finances, and came across two monthly bills from low and behold, an exterminator. This would not have caused me to pause except for the fact that I realized I had not seen a roach since I arrived! I quickly went out to the hot line where the cooks were busy with the lunch service, and called for the chef de partie on duty.

"Ali Abdullah! Viens ici!" He dropped his tongs and rag and jogged over. "Oui, chef." I asked him if he had seen any cafard? "Non, non chef. Qu'est ce que c'est des cafards?" My gosh, he didn't even know what they were. Amazing. So why were we spending money on an exterminator, you might ask? What is the most common household insect? What do you see on all of those misleading and misguided Sally Strothers commercials on dying African children? Flies. Flies were everywhere. So much, in fact, that we needed a bloody exterminator. I remember when we opened the hotel, there was a lot of excess trash including staff meals and packaging from unwrapped equipment. It had all been piled up in the loading dock awaiting removal. As I pulled up in my pickup, the entire pile, literally the size of an elephant (I should know), was black and moving, covered in flies.

The most interesting thing, socially, is the acceptance of the flies that occurs after a couple of months. Waving them away just becomes SO tiring, that one gives up. The land on your hands, legs, arms, hair, face and eventually, they fly away. All the swatting and smacking and frustration is a waste of time. They're God's creatures. (However, if you are in Djibouti and bored in the hot afternoon, sit down, have a cold beer and buy a cheap fly swatter. I think Charbel, Cedric, Djibrine and I counted 47 in 20 minutes. Beat that.)


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