At least when it comes to cooking. After a long and busy work week (and how is it that short weeks always feel just as long?), I don’t want to stare at my fridge and dirty kitchen. The weekend is for picking up the pieces, but Friday night is for respite, however brief.
Did we want to take our chances with the food trucks at the San Jose art walk downtown? I haven’t got the energy. How about a shorter walk, to that convenient palace of all things vegan and Supreme, the Vegetarian House? I’ve got a headache (on a Friday night, always) and that place is always loud. Then let’s hit on the thing that always feels just right: the homey, wonderful lentil stylings of our favorite Ethiopian restaurant, Mudai.
We’ve been going for years and the offerings have seldom varied, but the prices are right, the favors are always great, the atmosphere is unassuming and comfortable (OK, maybe a little less than pristine, but that only adds to the charm in my book), and the waitress greets us with a kind smile and usually knows what we’re going to order but leaves us a few minutes with the menu anyway. (She also typically remembers we are vegan and makes sure we get the non-clarified butter seasoning.)
If we order right, we clean the plate. The base is a veggie combo: a thick chickpea purÃ©e, spicy red lentils, stewed greens, and gently spiced potato, carrot, and cabbage. If we’re feeling hungry, we get an extra side of spicy ater kik, a garlicky stew of split chickpeas. Eaten with plenty of fresh injera, the best part is the bottom, where all the sauces and oils and spices have soaked through. It’s like home cooking from a home unlike the one you (probably) grew up in, but every bit as comforting.