That’s my baba and his brother, my amo. Do you now understand why people sometimes think we have a different ethnicity running in our veins? (Like, the actual and highest compliment someone can pay me is when they ask. Honestly.)
Though it was on Sunday, I took baba and my uncle out for Father’s Day dinner this evening. Baba is, in the loveliest way possible, a creature of habit unlike any other you might come across. His preferred places of dining are the best expression of this, his reality. About once a year, he picks a dining spot and then doesn’t go anywhere else for that entire year (and sometimes longer); while in a committed and monogamous relationship to said resto, he will very rarely if ever even order something different.
Ranoosh introduced us to Pita Bell (1846 Carling Ave) during Ramadan and it was, truly, some kind of heavenly kebab. They made a special lamb shank for my mother that was out of this world. Not only is the food exceptional, and the portions as generously served as one would do so for guests at home, but the place is always packed with Arabs. This latter point is important because when the ethnic restaurant food is eaten by it’s ethnic people, you know you’ve hit a jackpot; it’s the real deal, not pandering to a palette unprepared.
I mentioned Pita Bell last baba, amo and me were at dinner at this year’s baba-restaurant. When I asked him where he wanted to have Father’s Day dinner, he said we ought to try the restaurant I had mentioned a couple of weeks ago.
I must admit that I was a little nervous. Baba is picky and I had talked this place up so very much. Just in case they didn’t like it, I baked oatmeal cookies and brought them along.
Here’s the thing. When we are together, the conversation is neither ending nor stopping. Always, it is about politics and religion. It can get heated. Dinner is served and we keep volleying. Every once in a while, baba laughs because he actually legitimately believes I am funny (which I am).
Tonight, over charcoal grilled meats, raisin and almond covered rice, and salad soaked in lemon and olive oil, there was silence. And, for the first time in the history of my going to a restaurant with baba, he took home leftovers, because there were leftovers available to take home.
He. Loved. It. And amo declared that the food was better than this year’s chosen baba-restaurant, which has now been ousted from its throne by Pita Bell. I would be lying if I pretended I wasn’t overjoyed that baba and amo loved it.
Which just made me realize that I am still always wishing for my baba’s approval.
Today, I am grateful for:
1. Noreen. She was my morning wake-up call, and I had missed her voice and presence so very much. What a blessing she continues to be. And that heart, it is pure gold.
2. Halal food now beginning to make itself mainstream. Though I am hoping to one day be plant-based, I eat halal whenever possible. Pita Bell is all halal. It is also family-owned and run; the daughters are so lovely and they remembered me from several weeks ago, which felt like a lovely sort of homecoming. Please do go visit; you will not be sorry. Trust.
3. Friends who make me laugh out loud with a simple written message. Thank you, Duah. Always.
Ottawa | June 18, 2019