It started as a vague rumor and now it has become terrifying reality. For one reason or the other – we are not at all sure why – our restaurant staff has left and we are about to receive a completely new manager, new chef, or even chefs, new waiters even. The rumors are flying and our culinary future is being discussed heatedly.
“I know those new people, says one neighbor who lives on the 6th floor, I’ve often eaten in one of their restaurants, and their cuisine is superb!”
“What are you talking about?” says Rebecca, “their chef comes from Morocco, and the spices he uses are pure disaster! Could be I’ll have to start cooking again!” she adds looking very worried.
Of course Morocco is quite a distance from Berlin.
“There is nothing as good as Moroccan food,” says Adina who was born and raised in Tunis, “if their chef is Moroccan, we will really start to enjoy our meals!”
I am not sure I want to enjoy my meals, I think to myself, for a whole week I enjoyed eating in Italy, and where did it get me? I imported more than a kilo of myself to Israel and this even duty free!
The new restaurant will open its doors sometime next week and until then it is a welcome subject for general speculation and discussion because no one knows what we will eat in the future.
All residents here brought along their taste for food from different countries and I still remember one man whom I met when I entered the Towers. He was born and raised in Romania, and thought that he could not survive without Romanian food.
“At least twice a week,” he said to me, “I walk out of this house straight into a Romanian restaurant and eat my fill. When I return, no one here comes near because I reek of garlic a mile away, and you know what? It is worth it!”
Having been raised in a home where food was Austrian/Polish/Romanian I can adjust to most kinds of foods without great problems, except of course, to oriental, very spicy dishes which burn my tongue and which some of the people here enjoy.
My own children, born here but living abroad, fall upon oriental food as soon as they come here for a visit. My figure-conscious daughter forgets all good resolutions and simply digs in without a thought. Both my children, raised in this country, still seem to have some atavistic Romanian strain in addition; along with so-called Israeli delicacies, they also eat happily in a Rumanian restaurant.
If the subject “international food” comes up, I really wonder if such a thing exists. It would take a lot of tolerance for, say, a Polish man to enjoy the same food as a South African woman. Or maybe he would, provided he is in love. It still remains a questionable matter.
I remember one evening during a stay in New York when my two Cuban born cousins who have lived in the US for many years, took me to their favorite Cuban restaurant; they were so happy with the food there, that they even stopped talking for a while, which they rarely do. I hardly ate anything, and for a while I forgot that I love them dearly and I didn’t want to be their cousin anymore! I watched in amazement when they even took doggie bags home and when they offered me one, I thought it would take quite a while until I’d forgive them!
Fifty five years ago while living in Curacao, I recall my aunt’s two servant women cooking something very strange for themselves in an immense pot. There was meat in there and fish and I don’t know what else. It was a gelatinous gray mass, it smelled bad and it was called gumbo, if I remember right. It is a favorite food in the Caribbean.
My aunt and uncle as well as their daughters had lived enough time on the island to have acquired a different taste in food, and were delighted when the girls invited them to join in this weird meal. When I refused such an invitation, I was told:
“You don’t know what you are missing!”
I gladly missed, as I sometimes gladly miss a certain food right here in my own country!