In my dream, she knows the secret formula for their perfect lentil soup. She’s hip enough to work there, but also not-hip enough to work there. When I walk in the door to the restaurant, she kisses me and already knows my order. After I’m done eating, no bill appears. I tip big anyway.
Jerusalem Garden is my favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor. I’ve only ever eaten two things there. Yet, I know that it is my favorite restaurant just like, though I’ve only seen her a handful of times in my daydreams, the girl above should definitely go out with me. (Note: Any resemblance between the dream girl described above and any current, former or future actual Jerusalem Garden employee is purely coincidental.)
People tell me that the chicken shwarma is good – it’s something like Jerusalem Garden’s “Jeez, I don’t eat Middle Eastern food, but my friend wanted to go here, so I’ll be safe and order the one with chicken in it” mainstay. I’m sure it’s delicious like some big name actress or model is “hot,” but I prefer a little more intrigue and mystery. Come on, seduce me! Chicken – chicken’s not seductive. But since it’s Jerusalem Garden, I’m sure it’s a fine sandwich. Just like I’m sure that the falafel with hommous sandwich, the standard for the slightly more adventurous crowd, could wallop a Whopper any day. Still, it’s so predictable and mainstream! So Nicole Kidman or Heidi Klum! Bring on the curious girl with the mischievous smile and the heroin haircut. Bring me Mjaddara.
I shall name my first born daughter after it. I can hear myself now, “Mjaddara, honey, dinner’s ready” or “Time to brush your teeth, Mjaddara.” You want mystery? You want intrigue? How about something as simple as rice, lentil beans and onions cooked together and served in a pita? That, in essence, is the Mjaddara sandwich. “But that’s so plain and boring,” you’re thinking. Ah, but let me tell you about the spices. Wait a second, you wouldn’t make a man pinpoint why he feels the way he does about his lover, and similarly, I cannot precisely say why I love Mjaddara so. Is it the way she laughs at my jokes or just the cumin? The way she comforts me when I’m down, or the way the pita hugs the Mjaddara and tabouli (I modify the sandwich slightly from the menu) tightly, forming a little world in which only our love exists?
But, alas, my love, it is divided. My heart stretches to a humble little number, dangerously affordable and entirely unassuming: Lentil soup. It’s more common and recognizable (to the average diner) as a concept, but Jerusalem Garden takes it to new heights. I order it like I call an old friend, “Hey, Tom, how ya doing?” – “Yeah, and a lentil soup please.” And it comes with a slice of lemon like Tom always wears Chuck Taylors – dependable but never boring.
Like my dream girl.