Prague: Food Dilemas

When I started this blog, a mere 5 posts ago I thought it’d be a worthwhile thing to write about things that happen to me.  Since then, not a lot has happened and I’ve discovered it’s quite hard to conjure up things to write about nothing.  So here’s an account of a dilema I was confronted with whilst on my trip to Prague.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I discovered a condition that I seem to be afflicted with that makes me really uncomfortable going to food/drink establishments on my own.  I should probably mention that it’s not medically diagnosed, and I haven’t dared look it up on the internet for two reasons:

  1. It’s probably not a real condition, and
  2. If I look it up on the internet I’ll probably be suffering from cancerous aids and be on my death bed within a week.

I’ve noticed “the condition” before.  Whenever I’m set to meet friends at the pub at a certain time and I’ll be arriving on my own I end up planning my timing very carefully.  As a rule, I never like being late; tardiness is not something I approve of, it’s not difficult to arrive somewhere on time.  But I also have a dislike for being sat in a pub on my own, I get very uncomfortable, feeling like everyone’s mocking me for being alone, and fearing that I am about to be stood up by my peers (who are all in on the entirely pre planned joke).  With these too criteria in mind I have to make sure I know exactly how long it will take to get to the pub so that I am not late, and also work out whether or not my friends will be late so that I can adjust accordingly.  I have also known myself to make short trips to a cash point and perform other mundane tasks purely so I don’t go into the pub on my own.

It turns out, that this “condition” completely screws me up in a foreign country, on my own.  Granted, I don’t have to worry about keeping time as I can do things whenever I want to.  But I don’t get the comfort of knowing some of my friends will be joining me, I am destined to sit in a restaurant and eat by myself.  There’s also the added language barrier,  I struggled to grasp the Czechoslovakian word for Thank You on this trip.

My condition became apparent as something that I should work on getting rid of on my first proper evening in the city.  I’d woken up too late to have breakfast in the morning and got too caught up in photography and being cold during the day that I failed to buy something to eat for lunch.  I got back to the hotel at around 4pm and it dawned on me that I was very hungry.  I like food and being hungry is normally something that I will address without hesitation. However, on my own, in Prague, and with no knowledge of the language I became mildly distressed.

For the next hour or so, I watched kids TV shows on the only English TV channel that wasn’t financial stats or bad movies, I made myself cups of tea, I posted on Facebook and I perused the ‘Restaurants’ section of my Prague City Guide.  I’m pretty sure that subconsciously I was avoiding the inevitable.  By 6pm I was really hungry.  I’d located a number of restaurants that sounded nice to eat in and I finally managed to bundle myself out of the hotel room and down to the main road.

I walked slowly.  Very slowly.  I was nervous and very uncomfortable just walking down the street.  When I got to my chosen destination I hovered outside the door.  It didn’t look like a restaurant, it looked like a club (probably a very cool club) and I didin’t dare enter.  I hung around for a few minutes, thankfully there was no one around looking at me.  I left.

I ended up in a completely empty pizzeria on the main road.  After sheepishly asking if I could get some food I ordered some pizza and a beer and sat down, facing the window and door.  I think I had inadvertently ordered a pizza to take away, when it was delivered to my table it was in a box and wasn’t cut up very well.  This made me feel more uneasy, I still had half a beer.  I started eating the pizza as quickly as I could with no cutlery to slice the pizza better, my brain telling everyone who came near the door to “go away”.

Eventually my ordeal ended, I’d eaten the pizza, finished my beer and said a pathetically English thank you to the waitress allowing me to march full tilt back to my hotel to relax.

The next day I was careful to get up in enough time to abuse the free buffet breakfast offered by the hotel which kept me going until lunchtime and planned to buy some food in town at one of the Christmas stalls.  I’m more comfortable with street vending food establishments, they’re designed to be used in passing, there’s minimal contact with other humans and it’s quite common for people to use them as an individual.

I bought myself some Prague Ham.  I’d seen some the day before and should have bought some then, it’s a large hunk of meat that’s roasted on a spit, I’m guessing it’s glazed with something but I’m not sure what.  The stall I went to had a sign on it that I read as 1 portion of ham for 90 Korunas.  I think I had misread this and my only conclusion is that it meant 90 Korunas per 100g of ham.  I was charged 299 Korunas, for a large chunk of pork.  It was tasty, but I’m not sure I would have paid approximately £10 for it had I known that would be the price I was charged.  Still, at least I had sustained myself enough to last until breakfast the following morning and avoided another going-out-to-eat drama.

I guess you could describe my “condition” as some form of agoraphobia, thankfully it’s not caused me too much trouble as yet but I should probably work on getting it sorted out.  I might make an effort to go out to a pub for a pint on my own every now and again, find the courage and make the effort to talk to some new people and see what happens.

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