Unexpected Guests, the King of Koshary
We are driving home when I see the sign. “Wait! We have to stop, it’s a grand opening” “Oh, that will be going on all week, it’s just another restaurant.” “Can we at least look? The décor looks interesting and opening night only comes around once. “ “Do we have to?” “Maybe we could just get appetizers and then go home…Let me just look in the window. It looks Middle Eastern and you know how much I love middle eastern food.” “okay fine, “ he says with the kind of resignation that only a husband who has been down this road before and knows how it will turn out, can have. I feel a little guilty dragging him into this, but in the window it says the restaurant is Egyptian, and I just cannot help myself. The dye is cast
Looking through the window, I see Isis, not the terrorist organization, but the Egyptian goddess. The total opposite of ISIS, the goddess Isis protected children, healed the sick, and was married to Osiris, the ancient Egyptian God of the afterlife . They were all right there, their images were on the tables and spread throughout the restaurant along with the centuries old symbols for upper and lower Egypt The pharaoh wore a crown bearing both symbols, because in his power he united both upper and lower Egypt. All these thoughts and images rushed my brain like water breaking through a flood gate as I gazed at the bright stark images, and felt myself getting sucked into the world of Tutankhamun, the Valley of the Dead, the pyramids, all the ancient wonders of Egypt And they are all on the other side of the glass window beckoning us in…. Scott sees the gleam in my eye, and he knows that I am already transported somewhere far beyond this storefront. There is no turning back now…
“There aren’t any Egyptian restaurants in Arlington,” I say with fanatic enthusiasm. “In fact I don’t’ know of any Egyptian restaurants even in D.C., Moroccan, Turkish, Lebanese, yes, but Egyptian, no way!’ We are in for the whole nine yards. I throw open the door and we saunter into El Kahira (Arabic for Cairo.) We take a table and I start to throw around the little bit of Arabic I know from my days of working with the Kuwaitis. It doesn’t take long before I have used up all the vocabulary I know, since it is schwaya, schwaya, very little. The waiter brings us menus, and now we are both all in. The first course is an appetizer, baba ganoush, best ever As we use our naan to scoop it up, I look at the 1,001 Arabian nights décor and I am swept into another time and place. Even the name.. King of Koshary
When we finish our meal, we congratulate the owner “Mabrouk! Congratulations on your opening day.” As we get ready to leave, we pass another table, where Scott stops to admire their food. “That looks pretty good” “Oh, it is. this is what the peasants eat in Egypt. With pasta and chick peas to recommend it, the dish looks very filling. A wave of nostalgia seems to wash over both of them as they devour this comfort food. “We made an hour long drive here just for the opening.” Now I don’t feel so bad insisting we stop on the way home “I had to bring A here for his birthday. You can never find Egyptian food- exactly what I thought.
Scott breaks out into a loud rendition of happy birthday and S joins in, telling us that she needed to get A out to cheer him up. He said, “she always laughs at me for having a French accent when I speak Arabic.” Then I find out that he had a restaurant in Paris for 40 years and that they just moved to the States . She wanted him to have Egyptian food.and then she says, the other part of her ream for him to celebrate his birthday would have been the chance to speak French with someone. He misses it so much. Say no more. “ Mon ami, le francais te manque?. Je comprends bien”. And I am off on a tear. We speak French for a long time and notice that they are mopping the floor They wanted to order coffee but it is too late Closing time crept up on us. So we acknowledge that it is time to leave and then we realize that they need that coffee before making the long drive back to the Shenandoah countryside and we invite them over. So our evening went from just going home, to the opening and now, unexpected guests.
Our guests were delightful Each person brings his or her own energy and gifts into your life, and our world got a little bigger tonight. It was an opening of more than a restaurant. Now we have someone to visit in Middleburg and something tells me they will be back to the King of Koshary, where upper and lower Egypt meet, and so do we!
Using A and S, rather than full names for privacy, a grand birthday celebration!