Ben, Vanita, Byron, and I have formed a Thursday night supper club. Basically, we decided to try all the restaurants in Austin we haven’t eaten at yet. Vanita and Byron go out a lot more than we do, and Ben and I were in a dining rut (when Kerbey Lane is your go-to restaurant, it’s okay, but after a while, you need more choices). So our first dinner out was Aster’s Kitchen, an Ethopian restaurant.

Okay, so the food was for the most part amazing. They served beef, lamb, and chicken (no pork, as the owners are Muslim) with what I call (and may have read somewhere) are the warm spices. Cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and chilies. The heat sneaks up on you, so I was glad I had a beer to go with. Vegetables included greens, lentils, potatoes, and cabbage.

 It’s all served on a big ol’ flatbread called injera, which is used as a utensil (they give you regular silverware too). Injera is made from an ancient grain called teff. Injera is an acquired taste. I’m not sure I’ve acquired it. It was great with the meal, but by itself was sort of spongy and fluffy, like — okay, sorry, but like I imagine the foam inside a couch cushion might taste, were I so inclined. (Hangs head, outed as a non-foodie.)

This isn’t a restaurant review so I’m not gonna give stars or anything. It’s more about cultural awareness through food. One of Gordath Wood‘s failings is that it doesn’t have enough about food in it (or liquor, and considering one of the characters spends her time in an army camp, you’d think there’d be more than one scene with alcohol in it, and that one was very oblique). It’s not that I’m going to concentrate on food (or alcohol) in the sequel, but I want to be more aware of food and its place in culture, and how it can illuminate and help build worlds.

For a book that does that extremely well, read The Lies of Locke Lomorra and the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies. Scott Lynch takes his food very seriously.


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