There is a lot to be said for advertising. As we watch the local news at night, we switch to Mobile after the Pensacola news is finished. Mobile has a town nearby called Pritchard, and we always love to hear what has happened in Pritchard – mysterious murders, drug overdoses, family incest – it’s all there, right in Pritchard.
Between stories are the Mobile ads, and some are hilarious. One, however, for 7 Spice Grocery and Grill caught my eye. They show shelves and shelves of Middle Eastern goods, and mention a restaurant, too.
Time for a field trip to Mobile!
7 Spice Grocery and Grill (FaceBook page)
3762 Airport Blvd, Mobile, AL 36608
This is what 7 Spice looks like from the roadside:
This is the interior. You walk all the way through the grocery, and at the back, it is like entering a Damascus restaurant. Indeed, one of the waiters was from Damascus, and the food is very Syrian
The smells are divine. The smells coming from the kitchen are fresh meat being grilled, lamb, chicken, beef.
And we know we are at home. If you have read Walking Old Damascus, you will know we have loved traveling in Syria, and have loved Damascus for 35 – almost 40 years. Near our table is a hanging of the Roman Arch on The Street Called Straight; the last time we stayed in Damascus, at The Talisman, we stayed near this landmark, near Bab Thoma.
With every meal comes a lovely serving of addas – lentil soup. It was silky and lemony, the croutons were thin and crisp, it was so simple, so deliciously prepared:
AdventureMan ordered the Shish Taouk, a chicken shish kabob. It came fresh and hot from the grill, crispy and irresistible:
I ordered the appetizer plate; hummous, felafel, tabouli, baba ghannoush, little meat pies, stuffed grape leaves, and olives. Also a wonderful garlic aioli to dip into. AdventureMan shared some chicken with me, and I shared all these delicious tastes with him. They use a really good olive oil; it makes all the difference.
As we roll ourselves out of the restaurant, carrying more than enough for our evening meal, we have to walk past all the shelves in the grocery to get to our car. The prices are very reasonable and there are things I really need, like a whole bag of dried mint (have you ever tried making Middle Eastern food without dried mint? you need a LOT!) and chana dal, wonderful legumes, fig preserves, all kinds of little charcoals for braziers and big bags of henna . . .
There are wonderful Middle East restaurants also in Pensacola, but none like this. Worth a drive to Mobile to find this truly excellent restaurant on Airport Boulevard in Mobile.
Last week, we were in Atlanta, and stayed near a small town called Smyrna. We wondered several times where ancient Smyrna was, guessing Greece or Turkey. We were both right.
Today, the church remembers Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr of Smyrna. It is timely. There is a saying, the more things change, the more they stay the same (“plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” – Alphonse Kerr) - and today, too, we are seeing people killed for what they believe, when they do not fall into step with the specific style of belief of the crowd. Oh, the things we do in God’s name!
The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers
Today the church remembers Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr of Smyrna, 156.
Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna in what is now called Turkey, did not seek martyrdom and did not encourage others to do so. When persecution broke out, Polycarp made every honorable effort to protect his flock and himself. He even hid in the country but, eventually, the authorities found him.Since Christians worshiped Jesus Christ, an “unauthorized god,” and since they refused to worship the Roman gods or the “Divine Caesar,” they were considered atheists and subversives.
At a great public festival in the arena in Smyrna, Polycarp was presented to the governor amid cries of “Kill the atheist!” from the excited and unruly mob. The governor admonished Polycarp to swear by Caesar and to revile Christ and thereby save himself. The old bishop’s famous reply was, “For eighty-six years I have been his servant and he has done me no wrong; how can I blaspheme my King who has saved me? . . . You pretend not to know who I am; let me tell you plainly, I am a Christian. If you want to learn the doctrine of Christianity, set a day and hear me.”
Polycarp was publicly burned to death.The Christians in Smyrna who escaped death in this wave of persecution wrote a letter describing the execution of their great bishop and sent it to other churches. We still have this famous letter, “The Martyrdom of Polycarp.”May we always share the tidings of the King who has saved us. Amen.
Read the Wikipedia article here
.O God, the maker of heaven and earth, you gave your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and to rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Today the church prays for the troubled and sometimes controversial diocese of Manicaland, in Zimbabwe.
. . . says AdventureMan, as he takes me to lunch and to a movie on Valentine’s Day.
It’s a perfect stretch, from my birthday to Valentine’s Day. AdventureMan bought the beautiful white roses at Celebrations, a wonderful shop in Pensacola. What I love the most is that the flowers they use last and last. My flowers, more than a week old now, are just beginning to droop, just a tiny bit. They are still unspotted and unstained, glorious in their pristine whiteness, glowing in our foyer. I still feel the glow. :-)
My sweet son and daughter-in-law invited us for a shared birthday dinner and we had a wonderful, laughter-filled time, talking books, talking kids, laughing, laughing, and the 1 1/2 year old is starting to really talk and to get the convenience of oral communication. She wants to be a part of everything! The birthday boy and I had a wonderful time, tickling and laughing and sharing jokes. It was a great evening.
Lunch was in Gulf Breeze, at Rotolo’s, where they have great salads and thin crust pizzas, and then we went to see the spellbinding (if you are a nerd and love complex thinking) Imitation Game, which we both enjoyed thoroughly. We are so totally geeks; this was the perfect Valentine’s Day movie for us.
We met President von Weizsaecker under unusual circumstances. He has asked to greet members of the US Forces living in Germany on Thanksgiving. A friend called us urgently two days before Thanksgiving, asking if we would join them; they had been selected for the President’s visit. Others had been invited, but their children had come down with chicken-pox. We had just moved, had no plans and were delighted for the offer.
President Richard von Weizsaecker arrived in a large motorcade, the streets lined with people. When he entered the military quarters, suddenly we all felt a bit shy, but he sat himself among all the children, who all happened to be boys and un-shy. He knew just how to get them talking, and us. He was a most gracious and elegant man, sure of who he was, and excelling in putting others at ease.
The next day our photo appeared on the front page of the Stars and Stripes with the President, and our friends from all over Germany were calling to ask if we’d gone undercover – we were identified with the names of the people who had originally been invited, whose children had chicken pox. Of course, the more we explained, the more nobody believed us. It was hilarious.
BERLIN (AP) – Former German President Richard von Weizsaecker, who urged his country to confront the Nazi past, promoted reconciliation and denounced far-right violence during a 10-year tenure that spanned the reunification of west and east, has died. He was 94.
President Joachim Gauck’s office announced Weizsaecker’s death on Saturday. Weizsaecker, a patrician and eloquent figure who was president from 1984 to 1994, raised the profile of the largely ceremonial presidency and established himself as a moral conscience for the nation.
Weizsaecker’s May 1985 speech marking the 40th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War II cemented his reputation. It won widespread praise as an effort to bring fellow Germans to terms with the Holocaust.
“All of us, whether guilty or not, whether young or old, must accept the past. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it,” said Weizsaecker, who served as a regular soldier in Adolf Hitler’s army. “Anyone who closes his eyes to the past is blind to the present.”
“The 8th of May was a day of liberation,” he told the West German parliament. “It freed us all from the system of National Socialist tyranny.”
Later that month, the Netherlands’ German-born Prince Claus presented the president with a Dutch translation of the speech, telling him that it enabled him finally to acknowledge his roots in a country where resentment of the Nazi occupation remained widespread.
In October 1985, Weizsaecker made the first visit to Israel by a West German head of state. His Israeli counterpart, Chaim Herzog, said the comments had won Weizsaecker “a special place in the history of your people.”
“Richard von Weizsaecker stood worldwide for a Germany that had found its way to center of the democratic family of peoples,” current President Joachim Gauck said in a message of condolences to Weizsaecker’s widow. “He stood for a federal republic that faces up to its past.”