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Meating’ the challenges

Dusty Miller

CREDIT where it is due: all restaurants are suffering dreadful food and other material shortages plaguing Zimbabwe, due to government mismanagement, but som

e handle on-going challenges much better than others.

Sitting at a pleasant outdoor table in dappled sunshine at Libby’s recently, a mature, smart, polite waiter offered an impressive padded leather-look menu but said “Sorry, sir. We have no starters today and all I can offer as a main course are grilled pork chops at $1,8 million or an 800g T-bone for $5 million.” Total openness; no one could object to a statement like that.

I couldn’t eat 800g of char-grilled dead mombe if my life depended on it and certainly didn’t want to spend $5 million (US$5 on the black market!) on early lunch, when I had an intriguing invitation to what sounded like a splendid supper soirée.

Chops (two of them) were big, meaty, tender and tasty with a tangy BBQ sauce which wasn’t overdone; no gristle, just a fringe of fat grilled deliciously crisply to impart full flavour of the lean pork. Before that, a basket of heavenly, light-as-air white bread with crisp crust and one of the less unpleasant margarines was served and thoroughly enjoyed. Sadly bread is a scarce luxury item, nowadays, in this workers’ Eden.

Chops came with well-cooked big, square, golden chips, attractive salad garnish, sautéed French beans and onions and pumpkin — that favourite local vegetable.

They had beer, including my favourite, Pilsener, but it was going to be a long day, so I opted for a pot of tea from which four generous cups were poured at $250 000. A huge portion of vanilla ice-cream and lots of chocolate sauce, served in tall attractive dimpled sundae-type glass, was $450 000.

An attraction for other diners (but one which spurred me to eat faster than usual and rush away) was a fashion show in the courtyard garden. Models were stunning; I am sure clothes and accessories matched them; but the P/A system tested at Newlands before the event could possibly have been heard (probably more clearly) at Chisipite. Avoiding a painful headache, I gapped at the high port!

Libby’s, a Cypriot restaurant, was named after Libby McQuillam (née Malachias) when it opened, but for a few years has been owned by Xana Colquhoun who, although sounding like an F Scott Fitzgerald heroine, is the hands-on young widow of a Tengwe farmer. She is often helped by her mother and sister, Annette and Sherry Botha, also dispossessed farmers. Sherry has recently (and temporarily) also catered at Country Club, Newlands, to rave reviews.

Presumably their still strong farming connections keeps Libby’s supplied with prime pork products and what looked and smelt terrifically titanic T-bones.

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