A couple of years ago K and I had a bet. I would try Ethiopian food with her if she ate an entire gefilte fish at Passover at my parents. I wasn’t sure who had the worst deal in this bet.
Gefilte fish are disgusting. I have never actually eaten one and I never will. I can still smell those slimy little balls of fish of who-knows- what at every Passover dinner growing up. My grandparents and parents would put one of them on a little plate and add an extra bit of slime and slop them up with a fork. I couldn’t even watch them eat them. I still can’t. And don’t get me started on the smell of them! They smell like a nursing home or a Jewish great-grandmother’s breathe. They both pretty much smell the same to me which makes sense because Jewish great-grandmother’s probably lived off of white fish, tuna fish, and gefilte fish with a dab of kosher sour pickle spritz to wash it down.
So back to the bet. I always figured that Ethiopian food to me would be similar in texture and based on my experiences at Passover, trying that would be just as scary. So when K was coming for Passover we came up with the bet. And she passed. She ate it. She ate the entire thing. I didn’t watch. Actually, I think I put that moment out of mind because I don’t ever want to have to picture anyone eating one of those. But she did it so it was my turn.
Well that was over two years ago and I still hadn’t tried Ethiopian. K wanted me to try this little hole in the wall place in Philly that is her favorite so I was holding out for that. Well, after months of talking about it with other friends, we decided to try a place in Boston. I was all for it. I made the bet. I had to pay up. I figured that my taste buds were changing and I have been a lot more open to different styles of food in the past few years so I was ready and willing and a little excited.
My biggest thing with Ethiopian food and the reason I never wanted to eat it is the texture. I DO NOT LIKE SOGGY BREAD. Every time I think of soggy bread, I think of having to do the dishes growing up and pushing the soggy bread down the disposal. I am gagging right now thinking of it. I can’t ever get that out of my mind. White. Soggy. Bread. It’s the reason I still won’t eat chicken pot pie. Once I had to do a survey asking what my biggest fear was in life and I wrote down “Bears and chicken pot pie.”
Ok I digress again. Saturday, we went to eat Ethiopian. K was so excited so that part was nice. And it was great to see my friends. That part was nice. The restaurant was super dirty, which is totally ok. That really doesn’t bother me as it does other people. It could have used some better decoration but that’s for another day. And there was no toilet paper in the bathroom so I just went into the men’s room and stole theirs.
Back at the table A said “there was no toilet paper in the bathroom” and I said “Oh that’s cause I took it. I figured you weren’t going to take a crap so why not.”. Yeah, I’m classy. It was funny. And the seats were horribly uncomfortable and we didn’t know how to sit. I tried legs spread, legs crossed, hands on lap, hands on face, elbows on table, leaning back, leaning forward, both hands on face….you get the point.
Ok the food. It was very pretty. And when it came I was like “ok, I can do this.”. I tried to bread, which i really liked and I picked up some sloppy chick pea thing and it was ok. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I tried lentils and they were good. But as I continued and I started to see the bread become soggier and soggier, I mildly gagged in my mouth and had to take a break. Then I started to watch my friends eat and the gag came back and at one point I definitely felt like I was going to throw up. So I stopped. I had some more non soggy bread and I stopped and I just stopped looking at the plate*. I mean the food was fine. I just don’t think it’s something I will be rushing back to anytime soon even if everyone I know says “Oh you have to try THIS place.” Just like no matter where I am having Passover dinner, don’t be surprised if I need to get up and go to the bathroom during the gefilte fish portion of the meal.
*K was sure I was going to ask for McDonalds on my way home. I didn’t. Instead I came home and had tortellini and Girl Scout cookies.