It was always going to happen. No human can consume 70 Nando’s meals a year and come out unscathed.
Last Friday night, was the day I finally ‘turned’ on Nando’s.
Our weekly visit to Nando’s had started off well. Upon entry, usual protocol was followed: husband went to order meals (butterfly chicken medium for me/ half chicken medium for him, spicy rice, peri-peri chips and a side of halloumi, natch), while I collected cutlery, napkins and sauces (backroom Brenda).
The husband is also in-charge of the Nando’s loyalty card. We’ve earned about 10 red chillies now – the kind of top-level points that only come with a serious peri-peri habit.
For some reason though, the husband refuses to cash any of these loyalty points against a free meal. He likes to see the look of shock on the cashier’s face when he hands over the card. He wants the cashier to think ‘this guy is a serious player’.
The husband, on the other hand, claims his refusal to cash in his chillies is because he sees the Nando’s loyalty card as in insurance policy should we feel on hard times. If we go bankrupt, we can still treat ourselves for a meal out once a month for the lion’s share of a year. Also, he’s of the foolish opinion that accruing an abundance of chillies makes him one step closer to the coveted Nando’s Black Card. Dream on!
But when my butterfly chicken breast arrived, there was something horribly wrong with it. It was all pale, blubbery and seemed to be oozing copious amounts of water.
The waitress said she would get me another one. There was a long wait and when the new piece of chicken arrived it was even worse than the original one: this time, along with the blubbery wateryness, it was peppered with pink veins.
I was dealing with a bad batch of breasts! It was the fast food equivalent of the PIP scandal.
I went to get the manager and explain the problem. I wanted him to take me seriously so I took my Nando’s card with me.
‘I eat at least one butterfly chicken breast every week of the year,’ I said, proffering the loyalty card. ‘I know a bad breast when I see one. You only have to check our loyalty card to see how often we come here.’
The manager looked slightly out of his depth. Five minutes later, he returned with a chicken wrap.
‘I’m really sorry about that,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what was going on there. I’ve temped a few and I’ve binned a few, just to be sure.’
I was so busy hungrily tucking into my chicken wrap, I didn’t really catch what he said.
‘I think he said, ‘I’ve temped a few and binned a few?!” repeated the husband.
‘Which is a really weird thing to say. Why would he pop in the back and select a few breasts to randomly bin?!’
‘Surely if he’s going to bin them, he should bin the whole lot,’ I mused. ‘And what on earth is temping?’
I finished my wrap. Images of the blubbery chicken were still playing in my mind. I mouthed at the husband, ‘I think I’ve turned’.
It was only after that I wished I had taken photographic evidence of the blubbery, veiny breasts. Instead, you’ll have to make do with me clutching a bottle of peri-peri sauce and looking suitably doleful.
‘I want to get out of here with the minimum fuss,’ I whispered. ‘Where’s the manager? I want to slip out without any more rigmarole.’
‘He’s nowhere to be seen,’ said the husband, glancing around. ‘He’s probably in the back, booting bad breasts’.
I’d half expected to see the manager pinning a sign up at the window saying ‘Sorry, no butterfly chicken here tonight’.
‘I doubt I’ll be darkening the doors of Nando’s EVER AGAIN,’ I said, dramatically.
The husband eyed me sceptically.
‘That’s a shame,’ he said. ‘Because we’ve now collected enough loyalty points for about 20 free meals.’