Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 29: Vegan Ethiopian and the "D" Word

We had a coupon for this vegan Ethiopian restaurant in the Fairfax District's Little Ethiopia so off we went.
 The interior was pretty roomy, with eight or so tables of 4-6 seats each, as well as a row of round "tables" that I think were set up for the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony but people can just sit and eat, too.

This was back in April so my memory's a bit hazy. I had the drink in the foreground, which I think was "besso" - a creamy barley drink. I think the drink in the back is a mango shake, although that's not on the menu online.

It's really hard to decide what to order with the huge variety of individual vegetable dishes, so we ordered one of the variety platters, which came with an appetizer of sambussa. Which seemed very similar to the Indian samosas. I remember reading something a while back about how every culture seems to have a fried dough dish - Chinese dumplings, Japanese gyoza (which is just a derivation of the Chinese dumplings), of course the samosas and these sambussa, Polish pierogis...I forgot the rest but there were definitely more. It's very interesting, as it's easily imaginable that somehow they're all related.
Sorry the photos are so dark and I didn't even bother to lighten them in Photoshop. I forgot to bring the camera so I took these with my BlackBerry and the camera in there is not that great (or I just don't know how to use it properly). This was the platter. I can't tell what was what now but everything was delicious! I loved how there was a little bit of everything. Split pea stew, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, and on and on. I loved how each dish was spiced a little differently and really highlighted the flavors of the veggies. It was all good with the injera bread and by itself, too.
It's definitely worth a trip back. Would like to try the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony next time.

Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine
1047 South Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 937-8401

Today's Thoughts

So this might sound a little insensitive but I've been mulling over it a bit. A friend recently had to go back to the east coast to help his mother who had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I didn't really press for a lot of details, but it sounded like maybe it was a late-stage cancer.

So my friend was helping take her to various doctor appointments, fill out insurance forms, pick up prescriptions, etc. My friend is not wealthy and neither, it sounds like, his mother. I don't know what all the insurance situation was, but my friend said that he needed to ask his family and close friends for money to help with his mom's medical costs. At first it was to pay for prescriptions until the insurance picked it up, and he needed like $5,000. Then it was another $3,000 for painkillers. And another $10,000 for surgery. Of course it sounded like he was having a difficult time raising all that money. Then he needed like $1,000 to $2,000 to pay for the medical bills that had been building up otherwise the hospital wasn't going to allow him to make appointments for his mother anymore. It's a sad, sad situation.

Of course the primary injustice is the ridiculous health care system in this country that lets sick people fret over medication or procedures that cost thousands of dollars. But that aside, I started thinking - is all that money really worth it?

It's not to say my friend's mother's life shouldn't be valued. I don't know her at all, she sounds like a nice person, and I have nothing against her. But if she is truly in the end stages of a ravaging cancer, why spend tens of thousands of dollars just to prolong life for maybe a few weeks to months?

Of course I didn't say this to my friend, I realize it sounds terribly cold and I'm sure if the same thing was happening to my mother, I may feel differently. But certainly if I was in the patient's position, I'm not sure I would want my son or husband or other family members to sacrifice so much - to stop working, to get evicted, to empty out savings, etc. - just to keep me alive for a few weeks more. Dying is not a matter of if but when. Why spend that much money just to prolong the inevitable, especially if the person is suffering?

Why is Death so feared in mainstream society here? I can understand combating diseases if it prolongs life by years, but maybe even that will depend on cost. Of course it's sad to see people die. Especially those close to us - it's sad to imagine that I won't be able to talk to someone, or hear someone's thoughts, or share my life and thoughts with someone close who passes away. I lost a friend and former co-worker to cancer some 15 years back and I still think about him and miss him.

But, and I hate to put it in this cold and calculating way, but is a life worth prolonging at any cost? It would, of course, be wrong to set any sort of guideline (e.g. if you're this age or this background, you can't spend more than $5,000 per month for treatment that won't cure whatever you have). But why can't people, especially family members, consider the possibility that maybe it's okay to not spend all that money on treatment that will only prolong life for a few weeks?

I'm okay if people say, "Hey, I WANT to live for five more weeks no matter the cost because I want to spend every little moment with my family and we've all talked about it and all understand the consequences." It's their decision. But I feel like that discussion doesn't happen and people are thrust into these very difficult financial situations that may or may not ultimately meet the needs of the dying person (it's weird for me to write "dying person" to mean the person who is sick and has only weeks or months to live, since we're all really "dying people").

It's interesting how America is so revered for its freedom of speech but certain topics are still very much taboo.

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