Wat and Injera

February 12, 2017
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Plastic, dirty, dusty yellow
Tables that matched
The equally filthy mustard-colored stools
That circumvented them,
Shuffled after they were used
And appeared like planetary bodies orbiting a sun.
We took our seats and were already drenched;
Outside the restaurant,
The day was so humid that our shirts
Hung around our necks like elongated wreaths and
We gulped our complimentary water like
The famished children just
A few hundred miles away would
After having finished a day in the fields.
Our stomachs grumbled at us and
Moaned their stowed discontent, signaling that
We should just order already.
A waitress came by and seconds later
A unanimous vote was cast:
Wat and Injera.
Somehow, in the scorching heat, everyone had the heart
For spicy food, but it was only because we could not
Sit long before our mouths drooled in anticipation of
Golden brown, cubed beef chunks
Which nested themselves in
The creamy, milky curry,
Runny as our noses from eating it
And brown like the face of a boulder in the Mojave;
Each tender, meaty morsel simmered
By the same searing heat that baked us earlier today.
The dish was immaculate:
A concentric circle with enclosing supplements of
Addis Ababan staples: kitfo, lentils, lamb.
The vegetarian and chicken wat, cousins of
The central stew, stood alongside
Gloating concoctions of thyme, cumin, saffron,
Almost as if the cook in the hidden, crummy kitchen
Was trying her best to pack each bite with
A detonation of sweet and salty flavor that
Prodded the taste buds like a shepherd would his flock.
Each supple mound maintained a hue of
Amber or sepia and was waiting to be dug up
Like a grave from a cemetery.
And who could forget the cream of the crop?
What made wat and injera a relationship,
Not a solitary endeavor.
The injera, of course, held the hills of wat like a
Straw mattress holding a senile king,
Returning to his stronghold after
Enduring a long crusade.
The fluffy, spongy support just
As much a pleasure to consume as its counterparts;
Each of us would tear off a scrap as if it
Were a sheet of beige construction paper
Torn to be used in an elementary school project,
And we would each wrap the cusps into a
Soft shell, scooping the leathery
Lumps of stew into small, squishy parcels,
Each begging to meet our sweaty, dripping lips.

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