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East Africa in West Philly ~ Traversing Time and Space

I had a very important meeting today in my old college neighborhood. It is called University City because Drexel University and The University of Pennsylvania are located there. I moved away many years ago, but still have so many fond memories. Sometimes work or a social event will bring me back, but I have not visited in a few years. The last time I was there it was a very sad occasion. I went with a coworker to visit a former client of ours who was receiving hospice care. She died a few days later.  She was not much older than I, but was dying of uterine cancer that was diagnosed way too late. She had schizophrenia and this contributed to her death. Her caretaker did not believe her when she told her she was bleeding. I did all I could to advocate for her, but it was not enough. Her paranoia interfered with her willingness to receive tests and accept care. She was my favorite client and she had an outrageous sense of humor. And what a smile, unforgettable. She also shared my grandmother’s name. She was both delusional and telepathic. Her family said she had the gift of prophecy and she did indeed. She passed about 3 years ago, but her essence is still very much alive.

The meeting I attended was to discuss a research opportunity to work with people who are newly diagnosed as psychotic. This early intervention initiative started in Australia and Europe.  Later on a study was created on the West coast. Now start-ups are developing in Philadelphia and a few other cities in the Eastern United States. This is just the first step. I told the interviewer that I wanted to work with people where there is promise and hope.  She seemed to get it. Now I go on with my life and wait to see what happens.

I could not help but think of my beloved client on the ride home. But I was not going home quite yet. There was a pinball arcade to check out ( only 2 machines). Then I cruised by all the buildings where I once lived. The area has changed, but not really. There are new layers of activity superimposed on the old. I was in need of a lift. Plus I was really hungry. So I went to the Red Sea.

Now it’s called Abyssinia, but to me it will always be the Red Sea. It was about 3 blocks from my very first apartment and I got hooked on their food right away. The website does not show a photo of the food so I will provide one:




This is a mandala of culinary bliss! The beige bread that lines the plate is called injera, a spongy pancake- like creation that is sour and tangy. It soaks up all the flavors and is just incredibly yummy. For more about injera, check out Ka’s post here.  I had a combo which included several meat and veggie dishes with some salad layered on top. It is served with extra injera on the side. You eat your meal with your hands by taking a piece of injera and using it to scoop up the food. I also ordered a Kenyan beer to go with my meal. Ethiopian food is very spicy and the beer helps keep the heat in check.

This is my absolute favorite cuisine. I had my go-to dish ~ doro wat – tender chicken in berbere sauce with a hard-boiled egg. It is truly the circle of life! I also had crunchy collard greens that tasted so fresh, a beef dish, a lamb( goat) curry, a split pea stew and a lentil dish. The veggies are smooth in texture and mild in flavor. The meal is reminiscent of a paint palette and you concoct unique tastes and colors and textures with every bite. The beer I selected seemed unpleasant at first, but after a little while it married with the food and all the flavors cooperated. Salty, bitter, peppery, tangy,dense, clean, complex,creamy, crunchy, fermented, earthy, smooth, acidic, chewy, etc. I was so at ease with this meal. We were one. No other way to explain it.

I gazed around the dining room and remembered my various dinner partners from the past. I could only find a few folks who would try this food with me. One of my most romantic evenings ever was spent here with my ‘soulmate’ on a whim. We drove from my new neighborhood back here just to eat at this restaurant. We fell in love in West Philly, so I guess it was only fitting. I am not sure why this night was so special, but it was. We liked trying new things and reading evocative books and discussing ideas that were nontraditional. We liked adventure and were forever curious.

I wonder why I feel more comfortable with foreign cultures than my own. As I scooped up the stews with my injera, I wondered if I was once Ethiopian. When I was watching Top Model, of all things ,Tyra Banks gave the contestants DNA kits. They will be used to determine everyone’s ethnicity. It amazes me that for $100 you can send your saliva to a lab and in return you can unlock the mysteries of your origins.  I have been wanting to do this for years. It might answer some unresolved questions like why oh why do so many strangers ask me if I am Native American? I would be honored to discover that I have some indigenous blood running through my veins. The test would not determine past lives, but I hope it would help me understand more of my identity, including my foreign food preferences. Mars is in Sagittarius now and it is a fine time to explore what is exotic and unusual.

I hope this post is not too circuitous to understand. Today was an important day for so many reasons, some I have yet to discover. But I wanted to describe my meal while the spices still lingered in my mouth, before the flavors left me. I also wanted to honor the thousands of people who die before their time due to chronic mental illness. Perhaps most of all I wanted to stress that it is never the wrong time to treat your Self to a great meal, a relaxing drive, or a glimpse of an old love.


related post:


image “Plat de cuisine éthiopienne au énélik” via Wikimedia Commons

36 comments on “East Africa in West Philly ~ Traversing Time and Space

  1. litebeing says:

    Reblogged this on litebeing chronicles and commented:

    Here is a post I wrote that appears to be inspired by Anthony Bourdain’as influence on me. Someone in the media today called him a culinary rock star. I would totally agree. He was someone whose love of life was so evident, particularly in how the emotional signature of an experience left a strong residue. long after time has passed. I would like to think he would see some of his influence in my writing.

    I never reblog several posts in one day, but I need to do this to cope with the shock that I feel and to convey the love I have for this talented and flawed man.


    1. It’s really sad, Linda. Immediately when I heard the news I thought of you and know how much you are a fan. It was nice to see this post again, and the one you linked to injera (which came up in my conversations in my offline life). I had just posted to that gluten-free blog first time in a long while a couple of days ago (but I am no longer gluten free per se). I have come back and forth again on social media because it feels like not the best place to be the presence and support for what people need, but it’s better than nothing. I hope you are taking good care of yourself and seeking support from those who are nearby you. People in your proximity can be the most supportive at these times. I know how touched by his life you have been, and I trust that you will get through this and be okay. You have experience with supporting people so you know how to ask for the help and use the resources accessible to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your meal looked delicious Linda.. For me Spicy food upsets my stomach, but I do like a mild curry now and again.. I have to say the photo got my saliva juices flowing, And its a good think I will be having Sunday Dinner in 45 mins.. steamed veg of Swiss chard, broccoli, carrots, roast potatoes Chicken with sage and onion stuffing.. Followed by Freshly picked Raspberries this morning to make a Raspberry Mess.,,

    I hope the interview leads to the type of work you wish to do Linda.. I was sorry to hear about your client who passed away… She obviously left her love and humour fondly within your heart.. Sad no one believed her illness until it was too late.. So many do not really listen, I am afraid the Doctors would get fed up of us, as it was our practice to inform the GP of any complaints of our People We Supported. Even if at times we knew our clients were attention seeking…

    Good luck , I feel your manifesting, And All will come good.. 🙂


    1. litebeing says:

      Wow, can I come over for dinner? Your meal sounds healthy and heavenly. But I am off to run errands and finish soon a draft I am working on. I do miss my client so much, it was a very close connection, very unusual actually, She was attention seeking and paranoid and also truthful. I hope something positive emerged as a result of her suffering, She taught me much and these experiences inform my practice.

      What is a Raspberry mess? 🙂 xx Linda

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have some baked already Meringue nests, I put whipped cream and raspberries on top.. 🙂 a Visual for you is here..


  3. Dear Linda,

    As many have said, blessings as you pursue this new research opportunity! It sounds wonderful and would really utilize your skills. I love that your walks carry you through time and space, you always seem to bring a “dreamy” feel to your walks and meals through town. City may have been the physical backdrop, but when you post these types of posts they feel like Medicine Walks to me.

    And…this post brings forth yet another connection between us dear Gem Moon Sis 😉 I LOVE Ethiopian food…the music, the presentation, the ceremonial aspect to it, all of it. There is a great Ethiopian restaurant in Tampa (where my mama lives) and after seeing your post, I may have to visit now when I go down in October. As for your Kenyan beer, when I lived in Kenya, a part of me definitely felt like I was “home.” Also love Middle Eastern and Indian food. Basically all exotic food. Or just food. LoL. More recently I am vegetarian almost vegan (can’t give up that Greek Goddess Yogurt!), but I often find we must follow Self and honor what we need at particular times of the great ebb and flow.

    Lookin forward to talking Magic Carpets with you soon, love.


    PS> yes to the I AM 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. litebeing says:

      It is very cool so that so many of us delight in spicy, complex food, possibly a complement to our spicy, complex, and tasty souls 🙂 I am humbled by what you said about my walks. I believe you are on to something because active dreamers can learn to morph fluidly through differing states of being. I will sometimes set an intention to walk around with open eyes and a willingness to embrace mystery.

      Hoping to do our Gemini thing soon 🙂


  4. renatembell says:

    I will be thinking of you, my friend! 🙂 On Friday I will be dining in an Ethiopian restaurant I found out about a few days ago! (Our Gemini Moons must be in sync) During my visit to Los Angeles back in 2009, I had the pleasure of exploring this cuisine. Fun and delicious. I was so excited when I saw that a restaurant had opened up here in Charleston. I look forward to rediscovering the tastes of the injera and veggies (I’m a vegetarian.) 🙂 Very interesting about the DNA kits. Let us know what you find out. And, most importantly, big hugs to you for your compassionate work with your former client. Care-giving is a tough job. I applaud you. ❤


    1. litebeing says:

      Let us know how you enjoy your meal tonight. This cuisine, just like Indian, offers plenty of choices for vegetarians. I am mulling over the DNA kit. I most likely will try it, it is a matter of when. Thanks for your well wishes regarding my research opportunity.




      1. renatembell says:

        Ah, I just returned home! The food was delicious. Scooping with the injera makes me feel like a kid again. I started with the sambusa before indulging in the vegetarian platter- similar to your photo above but all veggies. I thought of you while I dined. I’ll have to email you the photo I snapped. It was truly an INFJ night out– I was early, and the only one in the restaurant the entire time! Kind of what I had hoped for, but wasn’t expecting. 😉 Enjoy your weekend, and do keep us posted if you order the kit. I’m curious about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. litebeing says:

        Please email me the pic. What is sambusa? My meal was similar, only 2 other people in the place. I like dining alone or with 1 person in a nearly empty place, as long as emptiness does not indicate poor food 🙂


      3. renatembell says:

        🙂 Sambusa is a pastry filled with lentils, bell pepper, and onion. They also have a beef option.
        I sent you a few photos 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Good luck with the research opportunity. I think the planets say yes with the grand fire trine and all that action between Uranus and Jupiter for starters.
    Your food looks yummy – I love the African presentation of food, especially Moroccan one. Me, I am a vegan salad eater, so I love various shades of greens on my plate. 🙂


    1. litebeing says:

      Thanks for your good wishes. I really can see myself doing this work. Waiting for the trine to arrive. Currently I feel the mercury slowdown strongly. I also like Moroccan, especially bastilla and the cold veggie salads. Didn’t know you are vegan. Wonder if this cuisine is vegan friendly. They may use butter, like Indian cooking.


      1. OK, so I am not 100% vegan, maybe 95. I really love ghee but I do not drink milk for example and eat hardly any cheese. I will occasionally have eggs. It is complicated 🙂


      2. litebeing says:

        with food, it often is 🙂


  6. Linda I did not find the post circuitous at all. Of course after I googled it.
    The food looks yummy. I too love exotic dishes. Past lives explain a lot!


    1. litebeing says:

      So I am told 🙂 Have you tried this food? There are lots of veggie options.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am not a vegetarian. No I haven’t tried it. There was a place near where I lived in LA and I always meant to, but didn’t. It looked fantastic, if perchance I am ever in Philly we must go.

        Love 😀


      2. litebeing says:

        Absolutely, we are on 🙂 Thought you leaned vegetarian except fish. Hey, I am unapologetically an omnivore, but will try to get organic and local ingredients.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Can I use that? “I am unapologetically an omnivore” that is why I say you are so smart and learned. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. litebeing says:

        sure you can, just give me credit 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Go for the DNA test! Now I’m hungry… 🙂


    1. litebeing says:

      I am considering it! Do they have Ethiopian fare where you are?


      1. There is everything/type of food and then some here! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. litebeing says:

        I will have to visit once I build my empire!


  8. Hello Linda 🙂

    I tried to comment while in the car… it’s been a busy, busy and challenging day -without much battery! (I wasn’t driving, don’t worry). I am sooo hungry now 🙂 Mars in Sagittarius is a pleasurable time for me also- for I, too, feel most comfortable within a foreign context – sharing that Sagittarius MC with you 😉 I Love food, and what might be termed ‘exotic.’ I think I wrote about injera in my blog around the time that you started to follow. We connected over our favorite Persian restaurants. My husband and I have yet to find our favorite East Africa restaurant here – I think we both prefer another trip to Africa.

    I’ve been thinking recently about people who have passed too early… some comments on FB came out about this recently, and it has been on my mind when digging into ancestry. People who have died in their thirties and under tragic circumstances by illness or accident. 😦 Losses, and the mystery surrounding it.

    I enjoyed what you wrote about your colorful food, as a painter’s palette… it’s a full-spectrum place to linger, and it’s lovely that you fully savored your meal. Health and food are linked, most certainly. It’s a great reminder to treat your Self to what life has to offer in pleasure.

    I said a prayer for your favorite client. For some reason, I do not know, my mind goes to a metaphor of a fallen soldier. We are lucky when we can be mentally strong; it serves to cultivate mental and spiritual strength – for it helps us to steer ahead and keep on keeping on.

    Much love,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. litebeing says:

      I loved this commentary Ka, it is like a post in itself. I found your injera post and linked it so folks can learn more about this exquisite treat. I enjoy Mars in Sag, but still feel Saturn’s sadness while it exits away from my Scorpio stelllium. I like what you said about my former client as a fallen soldier. It is rich with meaning and requires serious contemplation.

      So great to hear from you my sister.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Linda,

        So sweet of you to add the link. 🙂 You are not alone with the Saturnine experience. Saturn is lingering on my natal Uranus, Squaring my Sun, was basically squaring the Ascendant for a while. Meanwhile, the transiting Sun is conjunct my natal Saturn. If optimistic Jupiter weren’t transiting my natal Sun in Leo right now, and transiting Venus (love) conjunct my natal Jupiter (abundance)(& studies), I’d be less balanced right now. Sending you lots and lots of love, ❤

        Still, I feel it, sister…

        I'm grateful for your friendship & I'm glad my commentary was well-received by you.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. litebeing says:

      Hello again,
      Just want to say Thank you for praying for my client. That was so incredibly loving and kind. I wish I could share her with the world. I hope she is free of pain and fear, having an incredible time , feeling unencumbered and in bliss.

      Actually I wish that for all life NOW, including you of course. ❤


      1. ❤ You are welcome ❤

        P.S. I saw a very heart-warming movie… I mean very heart-warming… called "the letter writer." It made me think of you. I'm not sure why exactly, but I thought I'd pass it along.


      2. litebeing says:

        tell me more, you can’t just leave me hanging, lol!
        or I will google it. What did we do before google?

        We delayed gratification and went to the library 😉

        xx Linda


  9. ptero9 says:

    Dear Linda,

    I love middle-eastern food and most spicy dishes. Your meal sounds great.

    I appreciate your waxing nostalgic. When I get the chance to return to my old haunts, I go. It’s soul food for me.

    The research opportunity sounds exciting. I do hope it works out for you. I’ve had a few friends who suffered from mental illness, two of which died in their 30s, indirectly from their illness. Tragic.



    1. litebeing says:

      Thank you Debra for your encouragement of my pursuit of my dreams and my passion for nostalgia. I have Mars in Cancer which often manifests as a drive to examine the past, genealogy, dreams, etc. If we met we could grab a spicy meal and share our dreams 🙂

      So sorry for your losses. I feel led to make a difference here if I can. A friend from graduate school committed suicide in her 30s. She struggled with depression for years, but rarely discussed it. She was a therapist, avid traveler, and truly gentle, sweet person. I still miss her and so wish she would have made a different choice.

      xx Linda


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