January 11th, 2008

Not Who I Thought She Was

When I arrived at Blaue Gans last August I spotted Jonathan Rabinowitz, owner/publisher of Turtle Point Press, at a table in the middle of the room. He rose and greeted me with great warmth and geniality.

“Sit, sit, please,” he said, “and thank you so much for coming!”

I pulled a chair and sat down, and took the conversational initiative by describing my visit, not more than twenty minutes earlier, to the alleged Ground Zero Mosque. About a young Muslim cleric on the sidewalk telling me, “No, you may not take my picture because my religion teaches me that if you do so, you steal my SOUL, so absolutely no, I will not give you my permission.”

“Oh, really? That’s so interesting!”

A handsome young gay waiter stood with his pencil hovering over his pad. Jonathan put his hand gently on my arm. “Would you like to order from the three-course chef’s menu?” he asked. “Would you like a glass of wine? Or maybe a good German beer? No? Just water? All right. Now, the salads here are terrific. I usually order the celery root and apple with endive, but the roasted baby beets, pine nuts, and arugula is excellent.”

His voice was soft, low, sometimes hard to hear. I hitched my chair a bit closer, so I wouldn’t have to ask him to repeat anything.

“I will have the BG burger with Vermont cheddar and apple wood bacon,” I said.

“Oh? Just a burger? Not one of the main courses, like mountain brook trout with creamed spinach and mushrooms, or Schinkenfleckerl, which is baked pasta with Bavarian ham and emmentaler cheese?”

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