Fried Chicken on A Dark Night: Hunger in South Africa

The view of the townships from Table Mountain, SA
by Hillary U

When I think of Kentucky Fried Chicken, I definitely don’t remember every detail of how it tasted or what it looked like. I usually can’t even remember if it was crispy or home-style. Strangely enough on a hot night in Cape Town, I could remember everything about the chicken, even how greasy I felt afterwards. It was close to the end of my stay in Cape Town, South Africa. I felt like it had hardly been long enough for me to really grasp any kind of social awareness that this country was trying to convey to me. As the day was drawing to a close my home stay father seemed extremely tired after running around to his three jobs that barely paid the rent. A home stay situation is where you are a house guest in a family home in the country you are visiting - this is instead of staying in a hotel or hostel. A home stay allows for complete submersion into a culture.

So that night he said he would just take us to KFC so that he could get home to his wife and three kids. We walked into a run down mall that surprisingly had some very high end shops, and the KFC. We were able to get a large 10 piece bucket, enough for that night’s dinner and for tomorrow’s lunch. During the long car ride home into the townships I watched the scenery breeze by and couldn’t help but feel a little out of place.

When we arrived home it was dark, like it had been the whole time I had been in Cape Town. They were having rolling power outages and my house mother was desperately trying to finish getting her clothes in before the rain came. As soon as we entered through the door all three of my house siblings rambled towards me. Townships in CapetownThey each wanted to tell me about their day at school. As I listened it was like they were talking about having everything they ever wanted and they just seemed so happy. That night I went to bed after eating a very greasy chicken wing. The next morning I woke up and the greasy feeling soon returned. I walked into the kitchen where there was a cut up fried chicken drumstick waiting for me. My house mother apologized for it not being a very large breakfast, but because of the power outages all of their food had spoiled. I told her not to worry and waited for my house father to drop me off at school. As I waited I helped pack the kids lunches, each of them receiving one half of a chicken thigh and a small apple. For some reason that twenty-four hours seemed to be the longest and hungriest twenty-four hours in my life, even though I knew that there were people that lived like that everyday.

After my return to Seattle, I still remember that night; the feeling of how the greasy chicken slithered down my throat and how I felt greasy on the outside. All the time I had spent living here in America, I felt like I had been spoiled. We ate that 10 piece bucket of chicken between the six of us for three days. It was our breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My house siblings were nothing but grateful for the small meals that were given to them, whereas back here at home, I cruise by the fast food establishments every couple of days. That night eating that chicken really sticks in my mind because it made me realize that food really does play a complex story in our lives. It is either the thing you want the most and you don’t have enough of or it is the thing you want sometimes and you have too much of. Either way you end up feeling guilty.

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