Back in the days, for one to get a hearty traditional meal, they needed to part with quite a large sum of money.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Traditional meals were a preserve for the top echelons of society, but due to the hardships that people are going through in their respective lives, such restaurants have been recording less and less business.
The few that are innovative have had to cut down their unrealistic profits to more reasonable, affordable levels to maintain sales.
A visit last week to three very diverse restaurants that serve traditional dishes showed that eating places are now as different as their names.
One of the visits was to a popular eatery KwaMaiguru in the Willowvale industrial area.
On arrival there was nothing impressive about the outlook and infrastructure, but noticeably, the parking area was teeming with all makes of vehicles.
The cooking and eating area is located at the back of a warehouse whose walls are turning black with soot from the cooking fires.
A nondescript tent is the dining area while the benches seem to be an effort by a student carpenter.
But in stark contrast, their meals are overly sumptuous — served by smartly dressed waitresses.
They serve a wide range of well- cooked dishes, from guinea fowl meat, “road-runner” chicken, oxtail, pork bones, knuckle bones, beef biltong in peanut butter and beef stew among others — all in quite generous portions.
All meals cost US$5 including a soft drink or juice of one’s choice.
Harare’s evolving eatery life
There are similar joints that have been in business for years now, among them several found at the Exhibition Park inside the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show Grounds. These places, which used to be extremely popular two years ago, have clearly become pale shadows of their former selves in terms of the quality of food.
It is not clear why standards have continued to fall over the years, but it could be a case of complacency and taking clients for granted. Even hygiene appears compromised, as has food quality and quantity.
Although the places continue to attract the usual Friday big eaters, grumblings over issues of standards have become commonplace as clients continually feel cheated.
Some of the places that used to be famed for their tasty “road runner” chicken appear to have taken to serving “fake” road runners in the form of “off layers”!
But the newly eatablished outdoor eateries are growing in popularity, like PaRoots in Kaguvi street. The number of top-of-the-range vehicles parked in the vicinity show that the restaurant is popular.
Men and women from all walks of life, including company executives, flock there to eat food cooked on wood fires and served generously at prices ranging from US$3 to US$5.