Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jalapeno popper

Whip yourself up a batch of these little guys if you need to let off some steam.

Once upon a time. I lived in New Haven and worked nights at a restaurant called Caffe Adulis. It was Eritrean, owned by Gideon, who, legend had it, worked his way up from dish washer to restaurant owner. He and his Eritrean brothers, Sale and Ficre, ran the show. I didn't like them particularly, but for Gideon I had a grudging respect. He was good at what he did, and straightforward about it. Even if he drank Cosmopolitans.

We, the waitresses, had to prepare these poppers in the kitchen before service. Jalapenos, de-seeded, onion and tomato chopped fine, mixed with ber ber, the red spice mix they would bring back for the old country, and exactly - it seemed - like the peri peri I knew, of Mozambiquan extraction. Maybe there was garlic. I seem to remember Topaze adding spoonsful.

Because, apart from a love of the food that we still miss, Caffe Adulis yielded two lifelong friends, Lisa and Topaze. We speak little and see each other seldom. Lisa is in Oak Park, which is not Chicago, and Topaze in San Diego. Both have families. I am the tall black sheep.

We were a disparate group, perhaps not one of us very happy at the time, back in those days, with our respective wounds and their complications. But something about the place and time cemented a bond that I hold terribly dear.

So, faraway friends, I think we should plan something. We need to get drunk.

Here's hoping.

And remember Gretchen? Gretchen handed me glass of water to drink after Sale had exploded at me one night and I was in tears of rage. It was only halfway through the gulping that I realized it was a tumblerful of neat gin.


  1. good friends from bad times. Can't beat the combination.

  2. They sound delicious! but even more, a taste-link to good friends from a tough time. Back in the days when i was in New Haven (said in imitation creaky ancient voice) there was nothing even vaguely resembling ethnic cuisine available, unless one considers really superb pizza to be ethnic cuisine...

  3. Thank you for that post, Marie, I needed that. It triggered some wonderful memories for me as well of bad times and great friends... and thank goodness the two seem to go together.


  4. good friends,bad times. Some powerful memories for me, too.As in cooking, we need that sharp contrast.

    (My Morroccan friend used ber ber and said it was not from Berber language, but a corruption of Portuguese from Mozambique. Sounded plausible.)


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