It’s Not a Root

My friend Kate was in town one weekend recently from upstate and the first night we headed to Assab Eritrean on Geary. They serve a wonderful honey wine bottled over in Oakland called Enat, and the food here is ridiculously good. This time, Kate and I shared a large vegetable platter that we nearly devoured without speaking. Lentils, okra, spinach, potatoes, salad, all wonderful. We completely finished off the plate and all the injara underneath without needing a second helping of the bread. “Good job, guys!” our waitress said when she came to take our platter away.

This got Kate thinking. “You know, I have a friend that was telling me that the bread isn’t really bread, it’s made from a root.”

“A root? Injara’s made from a root?” I asked.

“Yeah. I mean, I don’t know, but that’s what I’ve been told. He said it’s really a mashed down root and pan-fried.”

“That doesn’t seem right. How’s it get so bubbly? That suggests yeast.”

“Hmm. True… We could ask.”

Our waitress soon came back and Kate asked her about her friend’s root theory. An incredulous expression crossed her face. “What? A root?”

“That’s what he said.”

“Uh… maybe he was eating some sort of root. No, it’s a bread. It’s made with wheat, corn…” (She rattled off a few other ingredients which I’ve unfortunately forgotten. Hooray, internet.) “But a root? Wow. What kind of root did he think was used?”

“I don’t know,” said Kate, “We were kind of drunk at the time so it sounded plausible and I didn’t think to ask the restaurant.”

“For the most part, Eritrean people are friendly and talkative, so you can ask anything, really.” She took our bill and went to ring it up. When coming back, she said, “Okay, now I’m totally obsessed with this guy. I gotta meet him, you gotta bring him in.”

Kate grinned. “That might be a while, he lives in Seattle. I don’t think he gets down to SF very often.”

“Well, if you can get him down, get him in here! I’d love to meet him.”

Assab and an excellent waitress can be found at 2845 Geary at Collins in the Inner Richmond.

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