Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Flicker and Fassil

This morning, I finally saw the flicker in our backyard, and he was kind enough to wait while I got my camera out.  Beauty bird.  My heart thumped a wildly enthusiastic welcome, thank you, please stay a while.  I wonder if he felt it. 
When I told dp I was reading Sweetness in the Belly, she suggested an Ethiopian restaurant on East Broadway called Fassil.  As I read a passage about injera, a kind of bread that is eaten with almost every meal, my mouth watered, and I couldn't wait to try the restaurant out, so Bill and I enjoyed an excellent meal there this evening.  Below is Deresse, the owner and very kind host.  He and his wife, Lumlum, take good care of their customers.  Deresse told me he comes from Harar, where much of the novel is set.  He wanted to know more about the story, but I'm only about 70 pages into it. I promised to bring it with me the next time we go.

This morning, Black Jack and I picked our way through a slushy walk in all its wet and more frozen forms.  When we returned, I photographed a few birds in the yard.  Later, I read a Peter McMartin newspaper column that described with great accuracy and wit the current walking experience in Vancouver. 

I love the reds in this little finch.
The hostess tray is ugly but the birds accept function over aesthetics.
This little fellow must have a death wish.  He's hanging around right at our back door.  Black Jack tore out of the house so quickly today, I thought they might meet, but the squirrel was a step ahead of her.
Walking along 7th Avenue this afternoon, I chuckled several times as I remembered Peter McMartin's column.  I stopped at Fir Street to look more closely at this mural under the overpass.  I've walked or biked past here many times, but this was the first time I noticed some of the details in the painting.  I love the perspective, the casual pose of the man looking at the painting, and the person coming through the doorway with their bike.  

That was my day.  A good one.  I close now, thinking of dp's (linked above) greatly enjoyed post, Six Degrees of Penguination, and wondering about some tidbits I might share in the next blog.    


  1. Lucky you with the flicker! Patience is a virtue after all.

    Yes, the spinach is my favourite. I could eat that with injera every day of my life quite happily. Glad that you enjoyed the restaurant.

    David and I discovered it when we were renovating our kitchen. Our old house is just around the corner on St. Catherines Street. The prices were dirt cheap back then (too cheap -- I am glad they have raised them, and they are still reasonable) and we would eat there a couple of times a week. We were quite upset when Moges and Rekiya moved to Calgary, fearing that the quality of the food wouldn't be maintained. But both Deresse and Lumlum are great cooks as well. It was really interesting to see how the dishes changed between owners -- still similar but some big differences.

    A few years ago we rented out the restaurant for the day because a couple friends who are good cooks were interested in learning how to make some of the dishes. I stood in the kitchen and made injera for hours, never getting bored. Then we had a feast with about 40 people that night. Fassil is the only thing that I really miss about living in the city.

  2. dp: Do you cook up an Ethiopian meal at home sometimes, or do you need special equipment? I agree with you about the spinach dish and injera being the perfect forever meal. The last paragraph in your comment is so interesting, I think it could qualify as factoid number 7.

  3. Congrats on capturing that photo of the flicker. Did you see the beautiful under-tail colours when she/he flew off? So striking!

    Every now and then, when I read your blog, I think "it would be nice to live in the city - the theatre, the art, the cafes and restaurants, the city lights!" You make it come alive and tease me with descriptions of events and places I would love to see.
    But I shall live urban life vicariously through your blog, because I am definitely a country girl at heart!

    Off now to look up 'injera' and see how it is made.

  4. Jean: Yes, I did see the under-tail colors, and was excited to get the photo, although it's still my dream to be able to take one while outdoors instead of through the window. All the photos so far seem rather washed-out looking in comparison to the brilliance I see over the camera lense.

    It's interesting that my two most regular and much appreciated comment-writing bloggers are country folk through and through. Like much about me, I seem to want to keep a foot in both worlds, and having decided over ten years ago that I didn't want to own a car, Vancouver was the perfect compromise. With the exception of the odd snow setback, forest, ocean and mountain are all within reach, as is a fair representation of wildlife and I can still satisfy my cravings for other more citified pleasures. Just the way it is, but I admit to also living vicariously through your and dp's life with a ton of animals and wide open space for them to roam. Bill and I had hoped to visit you, Janice and Carol (at Saints), but I haven't wanted him to venture any further than necessary on snowy roads. I'm still hoping that may happen in the New Year. I know that you probably have many options for places to stay, should you want to do a city run, but please know there's a spare bed here and we would love to have a chance to enjoy time and a face-to-face chat with you.

  5. Ok - I'm sitting here laughing my a## off at the fact of all of you raving about injera. After living in Ethiopia for two years, I still shudder when I think about injera and all its ghastly sponginess. I used to call it carpet underlay! That being said, a girlfriend dragged me out unwillingly to Nyala on main street last year and I tried the injera. It was surprisingly tasty - but completely unlike anything I remember. So, do you think that the injera here is entirely different or that my memories are entirely off? Carol, will you ask the owners next time you're out? Thanks!

  6. Cristina! Great to hear from you. Hope Christmas brought all the joy that your kids anticipated. They were definitely getting a kick out of the preparations. Great fun, your blog. And, sending good wishes to all of you for 2009. I love the updates, pictures and glimpses into your busy life.

    Your comment here made me laugh out loud. I love injera, but can't pinpoint exactly what it is that I find so pleasing. I guess I would have to say the texture, and the flavors and juices of the other dishes soaked into it. Bill is much more inclined to relate to your "carpet underlay" description. He would have preferred rice with his lamb dish. It's been quite some time since I ate at Nyala, and I don't remember the difference from Fassil, but the owner did tell me he could no longer get teff and was making his injera with whole wheat and some other grains. Deresse, at Fassil, told me his injera was almost 100% teff. I will ask him the difference from that made in Ethiopa, but if the novel is any indication, the poorest character in the story made her injera with sorghum, whereas the more desired grain was teff. It seems there are many possible variations. Here's one site that I found. Sorry I don't know how to do a link in the comment box. http://pnwsteep.wsu.edu/directseed/conf99/dspropWP.htm

  7. I have never tried to cook Ethiopian food at home, but no special equipment is needed -- just special spices. Making injera is similar to making sour dough bread, where a you set aside some of the mixture to inoculate the next batch with the necessary yeast. After that it's like making crepes, which I am good at. If you want factoid #8 I worked at a horse farm in the Loire Valley for six months when I was in high school. The owner's mother was a fantastic cook and she would open their old farm house as a restaurant once every other Friday. The menu was fixed and always delicious. Once she learned that I had the patience for making crepes it became my job when they were on the menu (not the batter preparation, just the formation). She cooked three meals daily for all of the farm staff -- I have never eaten so well in my life.