Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Who goes to a restaurant only once per month?

As many people who know me are aware, I don’t particularly like eating at restaurants.  I’m not necessarily opposed to restaurants, but if given the choice between making my own meal at home or eating out I would choose the first option 9 times out of 10.   The biggest reason for avoiding restaurants is my food allergies and wanting to avoid getting sick.  But at the same time eating out is probably the number 1 social activity in the U.S. I found out today that is definitely not the case here in Botswana.

I hadn’t noticed it until the conversation began, but there are practically no restaurants here.  There are probably about 5 restaurants at the mall. But driving around from place to place I never see any restaurants.
I completed my PhD at Purdue (Boiler Up!) in Lafayette, IN.  According to UrbanSpoon there are 259 restaurants in Lafayette, which has a population of 67,000 people.  That means for every 258 people in Lafayette there is one food outlet.  If the same formula was used, that would mean there should be at least 900 restaurants/fast food operations here.  We could even be conservative and go for half that.  But there is not 450 food and beverage outlets here, not even close.  I would be shocked if there were 100 restaurants here.

This afternoon I was visiting with two friends on campus, Mompati and Gladys, and the topic of food was broached.  As the “new kid on the block” they were asking if I could cook.  I told them that yes, I cook, and according to my taste testers I was an excellent chef.  Of course I failed to mention most of my tasting victims were graduate students who could not possibly be completely objective and were probably stressed out as I was standing over them insisting, “Do you like it? Do you? DO YOU?”
Somehow the conversation shifted from recipes to restaurants.  They asked me about restaurants in the U.S. and I easily listed and described 20 or more from memory.  They were dumbfounded.  They told me it would be unusual to eat in a restaurant more than once a month here.  Sometimes they didn’t even eat out once a month.  I told them that was unheard of in the U.S. and sometimes people eat out every day or even multiple times a day.  Mompati and Gladys looked at each other in such shock; you would have thought I just told them I was an alien.  Though I can relate in small part to their disbelief, I can definitely think of a few people who would find a year without McDonald’s, Chic-fil-A, and Pizza Hut a little tough.

For the curious out there here is the ONE fast food chain my friends could name for me.  I will check it sometime and report back.  Also, I should mention there is only ONE location for that chain (the chain in South African, there are no true Botswana fast food chains) in the entire country.


  1. Hi Kelly,
    Erin gave me the link to your blog and I have enjoyed reading about your adventure. Both Uncle Jim and I noticed that your writing style is very similar to your grandmother's, particularly the humerous touches. If you are ever interested in reading her journals, Uncle Dan has them. I am looking forward to following the rest of your adventure. Have lots of fun (I know you will).
    Love you, Aunt Ellen

  2. Thanks Aunt Ellen, I'm glad you are enjoying it. I will be sure to ask Uncle Dan about that when I get back next year. Love you too, Kelly