|a new low in photography|
About a year ago a commenter on this blog recommended Cafe Rehoboth, an Ethiopian restaurant in San Jose. Owen, Isabel, and I made a date to take my grandmother to dinner there on Saturday and when we got to her house we rang the bell repeatedly, then I called on the phone, which no one answered, then we rang some more before she finally appeared at the door, tiny and dear. This is standard operating procedure. She was dressed in a gray skirt and sweater with a scarf and a barrette in her hair and she looked snappy, but she immediately said, "I feel so sick and tired! I don't know what is wrong with me. Suddenly I was getting dressed and I felt exhausted. I am so glad you are here because I thought I was going to faint."
I never know whether to take her seriously or cajole her. I said, "Why don't you sit down and I'll get you a glass of water."
Grandmother: "Maybe a little glass of rum? It is good for the heart."
I brought her a tablespoon of rum in a tiny crystal glass with an ice cube, the only way my grandmother drinks anything, including wine. She sat in her wing chair, took bird-like sips, fretted.
Grandmother: This might be my last day, you know.
Jennifer: Then let's make this the best day ever.
Owen: Maybe you should take her pulse.
Jennifer: Ok. . . oh no, I can't find it. She must be gone.
Ha ha ha.
She wanted me to write down the number of a specific ambulance company in case she fainted at the restaurant. She made me look in a drawer for the number, but the drawer was full of Christmas napkins.
Cafe Rehoboth sits in the middle of a half-abandoned street and the carpeted dining room, very humble and homey, is tucked behind a defunct bar. The hostess treated my grandmother like a queen, which made her happy. My grandmother is soft-spoken and gentle, but very regal; my grandfather used to say that her political leanings were "monarchist."
She was disappointed that the restaurant did not serve cocktails, so she ordered mango juice. It came in a pint glass without ice and this bothered her deeply. As I said, she likes to take liquid from dainty glasses, with ice and she could not stop talking about that enormous, stupid pint glass.
|By the time the food came, she'd almost finished the juice.|
I hissed at Owen, "If you do that one more time you are going outside to wait for us on the street!"
My grandmother said, "He's just having fun. Be nice." Then she reached for another piece of injera and Owen started teasing Isabel again. It went on like this for about 20 minutes and I too wished that Cafe Rehoboth served cocktails.
|beef, beef, chicken, cabbage, garbanzos, homemade cheese, salad|
In the backseat, Isabel laughed. My grandmother always complains about restaurant food after she eats us all under the table and we wouldn't want it any other way.
To finish the evening, we went to Nirvanaah, an Indian ice cream shop I'd read about on Chowhound. If you are ever within 100 miles of Sunnyvale, California you need to come here. I ordered a scoop of thandai ice cream without knowing what it was. What it was: a wildly delicious fruity, nutty, aromatic dessert that I must eat again soon even if that means replicating it in my own kitchen. There were other seductive Indian flavors, but my grandmother ordered a vanilla ice cream cone which she ate with relish. She seemed to have forgotten all about fainting and dying.