Not About Food

Bringing a Book to a Restaurant - My Lunch at Bawarchi in Fairfax

Steve | Oct 30, 201506:28 AM     17

Thia is an odd, hybrid post about a particular lunch, but globally about the practice of bringing a book to read at the table when going out to eat solo.

I've had a lot of positive experiences in bringing a book along, mostly resulting in brief conversations from others noticing what I am reading and engaging me in conversation. I really like this, and even though I have an eReader that I use to read unpublished material, I much prefer carrying a book. I guess I want to be noticed.

Yesterday, I went to Bawarchi in Fairfax for lunch. Bawarchi is in the same space as the now-defunct Karaikudi. At lunch, they only have a buffet, which I normally avoid. It was a small but mostly thoughtful selection aside from a couple of typical items I skipped. It was super satisfying. They had a fairly tame but well made mirchi ka salan, idli, curd rice, shredded pakora, dal, and a few other things that had a good amount of heat to them.

Even more interesting though, the waiter/manager (Jamal, nickname Jimmy) noticed a book I was reading. (Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), which he asked about. He proceeded to tell me that he had written an autobiographical book about growing up in Bangladesh during a genocide against Hindus (Jimmy is Muslim) by Pakistan, backed by Kissinger and Nixon. He called it a civil war, and it was not only anti-Hindu but anti-intellectual. He wound up in NY waiting tables at famous Jewish delis, like Carnegie and 2nd Avenue, and got to know the clientele: Mayor Guliani, David Letterman, Jackie Mason, and they even followed him to wherever he was working. He also got to know some publishers who theoretically are giving him advice. He showed me three pages of his book on his iphone, and he also brought out a big, heavy book he had written in pencil as a kind of journal. It was dramatic stuff.

Anyway, it was quite a lunch. So maybe I will get a group together sometime soon for a weekend Chowdown? They still have kottu paratha, mutton varuval, and other Chettinad items that Karaikudi used to have. He says they have three chefs in the kitchen, one punjabi, one from the south, and a third to make the breads.

Back to Not About Food: I've read that, despite the proliferation of eReaders, book sales have not been slowed. Many people still prefer buying and reading from pages they have to flip. I know that's true for me, so I was wondering if other Chowhounds find that as well.

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