The “Impoverished Nation Cuisine” Tradition: Indian Lunch Buffet After Sunday Mass

Kevin was my buddy from the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults group at St. Paul’s University Catholic Center a year ago, and he was there since the ex-Methodist wanted to get married in a Catholic church and was inspired by the sense of morals and community by some of his Catholic friends.  We initially sat distant from one another, staring at the group leader on Sunday evenings and eventually breaking the silence to answer questions or volunteer to read text.  Soon, I noticed that he looked familiar and had been participating in the 11AM Sunday Mass choir with me, and so we started breaking the ice and hitting things off.  We became good friends and supported one another, and then I was baptized and the both of us were confirmed in the Easter of 2011.  Since then, I continued attending Mass around the downtown area, and Kevin started going to a church closer to his apartment and workplace.

Kevin introduced me to Jen, his fiance, and a few of his friends through greetings around the downtown area but mainly through Indian food.  After one of the Mass sessions, Kevin invited me to join him and his group for lunch, indicating that it has been a tradition for him to go to Indian lunch buffets after Mass.  It began with his mom, who with the family of normal Midwestern potato and burger lovers visited him on a sunny Sunday and decided for the family to try some “impoverished nation cuisine” for lunch after Mass.  Since then, Kevin and his family fell in love with Indian food, and Kevin would go to the usual spot around Capitol Square.  So…that was how I ended going to a few of those, including a session where I took Kevin, Jen, and two friends to the popular and my favorite Indian food restaurant Maharani around the downtown area for lunch buffets, and the five of us saw a big gay truck with balloons and drag queens passing by our eyes.

Time passed by, and I rarely see Kevin and the gang around.  One of his friends whom I befriended for a summer moved to Amherst for graduate school, and Kevin and Jen would drive back to Eau Claire and Minnesota and became occupied with wedding planning.  However, I still keep in touch with them mostly through email and poorly through facebook…and Kevin and I decided to meet for lunch after today’s Mass.  I was excited since Kevin has been out-of-town for nearly every weekend, and ’twas great to be able to see him again.

After today’s choir, I brought the hymn books to the music room and started mingling for a bit.  Then, Kevin entered the room and appeared in front of me, wearing his usual sneakers and shorts.  He then asked if Jen could join us, and of course I said yes.  So the three of us started chatting and catching up with one another after exchanging hugs, and soon we were walking on State Street.  I asked Kevin where he would love to go for lunch, and he told me “INDIAN LUNCH BUFFET!” without hesitation.  I laughed, but ’twas great since I love Indian food and became wiser in choosing the healthier dishes instead of the buttery and oil-soaked ones since last time.  We continued chatting while walking, and eventually arrived at the same ol’ spot on West Mifflin Street.  Somehow the ownership was different and the name of the restaurant was changed to Mirch Masala despite the same paintings and decor in the establishment, but we still had a great time.  Kevin loved the fried vegetable pakoras, and Jen usually gets some along with curry too.  For me, I am a huge fan of samosas and curry, so anyone can win my heart by having Indian food with me.  I also tried some fish, chicken, and beef dishes along with TONS of servings of vegetables.  We continued chatting about wedding details and even frustrations, Kevin’s work, Jen’s nursing career and moving to Madison from Eau Claire, my progress since the last time we met, my teaching and students, future goals, bridezillas, and many other exciting topics.

After two plates for the each of us and constant exchange of words, lunch came to an end and we enjoyed the sun by walking along State Street and back to the area where I parked my bike and where Kevin parked his car.  Kevin surprisingly paid for my dinner since he remembered that I paid for the two previous ones, so that was funny since I was going to pay for the three of us due to them not being around the downtown area as often.  I also shared with them my dilemma with their wedding date, since Collin set his wedding on the same day, and Eau Claire is five hours from Waukegan.  Kevin was understanding and told me not to worry if I could not make it since many people will be married that day…and even Jen’s cousin was invited to three weddings on that day!  I did not indicate a 100% NO, but I told them that I will mail my RSVP to them on May Day.  They did not know about this, but of course I will mail a card with a gift to wish the lovely couple well!

The one-hour and a half interaction was enjoyable and splendid, and I was glad to see Kevin and Jen again.  After talking to them, I learned that Kevin and Jen are planning to reside in Madison and establish a family, so I will have someone I can visit as a reason to travel to Madison in the future.  I am happy to see them so in love with one another, and that is just true love.  They would not criticize each other due to small things and flaws, but they cherish one another and determined to grow old together.  This kind of love should be more visible and applauded in the world–no matter if ’tis heterosexual, homosexual, or others.  So many people would become impatient with one another or had an affair or scandal, resulting in a broken family.  For most people around my age, they do not seem to value a deep and meaningful relationships but often seek for hookups to fulfill their instant pleasures…making me a dinosaur of some sort.  Even in love, people learned to make sacrifice and tough decisions while aiming for their goals to support themselves and their loved ones…and I always admire the lovely couples in their eighties who walk around town, holding hands and smiling with one another.  I could see Kevin and Jen being those couples in the future, and I just hope that I can be like that one day.  ‘Tis true that I am mainly a professional, confident, and independent man with goals in the short- and long-run, but I also hope that I will be able to find the one I love and who loves me, and that we can grow old with one another.

 

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