I accidentally buried this as a reply, so I thought I would rethread it. Feel free to strip the original, whoever has the power to do so. This should, I guess, be a new thread. So here it is...
Okay, a strong title I know. I dont even know if Masawa is still there on Haight street, but I can tell you that when I was there the woman working as a waitress was a total jerk to me.
I am left handed. I also live in America and am a Unitarian. What does this have to do with eating at Masawa, you ask? Well, as many people may have heard, there is a tradition of eating with your right hand in the middle east. I wont go into why, suffice it to say that you are supposed to eat this flatbread as a sort of fork/bread thing to scoop the food onto and pop it into your mouth - with your right hand. Being a Unitarian, I figure they have a religious,social, whatever right to do all that, but I dont let it effect the way *I* eat my food, and being completely left handed I have to eat with my left hand - either that or bury my face in the plate with my hands behind my back.
Well first the waitress/woman in the Dashiki totally ignores me for about 20 minutes - no water, no 'hello today,' no list of specials or even a menu.
After being ignored for 20 mins or so I finally call out to her - she is rude, so I try to be kind of nice, "Hello, I am here to eat, is it possible to see a menu if you are serving food here?"
I get a glare and a menu dropped in my lap.
I order some food, and am given no fork or knife - I know about the left handed / right handed thing so I ask for one. She refuses to bring any, telling me that it is traditional to eat with my hands. I explain I am left handed and would prefer a fork. She says they dont have any, and to eat with my right hand.
So, I start in. With my left.
She gets a REVOLTED look on her face. She just cant stand it, she walks over disgusted and tells me I cannot eat with my left hand.
I tell her I cant eat with my right.
She tells me I am literally grossing her out, and that I MUST eat with my right hand. I tell her my right hand is a vestigal appendage, and that for all the good it does me on its own it might as well be a flipper or a dew claw.
She gets upset. Starts giving me the nastiest looks, and again insists I must try to eat with my right hand.
I try, and the food ends up in my lap, so I go back to eating with my left.
Again she makes a scene, telling me I am gross, that I am showing disrespect for her, for her culture, her food, and that she cannot watch so has to go into the back.
After finishing and waiting around for over 30 mins for a bill, I finally call out again, "May I get my bill please?"
I go and wash up, and my bill is on the table. It came to about $18.78 or so. I leave the $.22 and pocket the buck, never to return to Masawa again.
For all of you who got into such a twist over the alleged Masa's incident regarding 'female food' I think this is right on par with that sort of thing. I was not in Ethiopia, I was on Haight Street. But I was made to feel very uncomfortable from the moment I walked in. And treated as poorly as I have ever been treated at a restaurant.
Masawa: staff RUDE, food not very good, and frankly the prejudice and nastiness I was treated with there was beyond the levels of anything I have ever experienced.
Down with masawa, up with good East African food where the staff and kitchen are happy to see people in their establishment, and where, if requested, they will provide a fork and knife.
-Gil, who tells it in complete truth.
(This was back in... 1995 or so, maybe things have changed, but I could care less, my money wont be going back there again. And Yes, I do know all about why you arent supposed to eat with your left (or shake hands with it) but I live in a nation with, for the most part, running water, soap, and lots of cool things like forks... for the most part).