Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Year of Eating Differently (60): Nando's, Frith Street

I've always found Nando's quite an unnerving experience, as far as fast food goes. Part of the problem, but also the point, of fast food, is that the experience is generic - no matter which branch of McDonalds you enter, you should get the same experience. (This is of course something of a fallacy, as borne out by McDonalds' attempts to decorate every 'restaurant' differently, the existence of localised burgers, and so on.)
The thing that has always got me about Nando's, (and it is a genuine feeling of being caught out, rather than something that just rankles a bit with your sense of self) is the inconsistency. In particular, the inconsistent application of hot sauce. Go to the Nando's in Bromley and order something hot, and you can be the big man and wolf it down. Do the same in Islington, and watch at your girlfriend at the time laughs heartlessly as you stagger outside to the next door supermarket in search of milk, only to come back and find she's eaten all your chips. And you're still crying.
Not that I'm bitter, mind you. I wouldn't want to give that impression. But the point is, you're never quite sure what you're going to get and thus Nando's, however accidentally and possibly incompetently, is providing a useful lesson for you about the unreliability and confusion of life.
Furthermore, every other Nando's I've ever been to has got roosters everywhere and some attempt to look a bit Afro-Portuguese. Not the one in Frith Street; here it's pretty much standard West End restaurant decor - a few bits of glass, a few bits of chrome, no stupid 'ethnic' looking furniture. How odd. Anyhow, three of us go to lunch, and while we wait for my vegetarian pitta to arrive, discuss the iniquities of life and how difficult it is as cash-rich, time-poor urban professionals (cart puppies?) to find your life partner, unless you first bumped into one another at play school and spent time staring into each others' eyes ever since. (According to the cosmic ordering school of thought, one writes down a list of every single last thing required of your prospective mate. According to anyone who isn't STINKING MAD CRAZY first dates aren't conducted according to BS5150 guidelines, and with good reason: Blonde hair? Check. Blue eyes? Check. Teeth? Check. Simon and Garfunkel? Check. ... and then all of a sudden ... what do you mean, you've never watched Battlestar Galactica???? Hardly a mature approach to life, is it?)
The pitta arrives. I don't turn red and go into anaphylactic shock. To be honest, I think this means the cook wasn't trying hard enough; I may have only ordered medium, but shouldn't he have had a go at trying to kill me with an overdose of heat? Never mind. Perfectly adequate, and just like (about 50% of) all the other Nando's I've ever eaten. But that's the point.


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