Geneve- day 4… The food at the end of the tunnel

It was dark…really dark. The kind of darkness you forget exists if you live in a place like NYC. The road was steep and although I was walking downhill, all I could think about was my trek back uphill in the darkness. My stomach was begging for food; I hadn’t eaten all day, staying in bed to recover from a bout of food poisoning.

I was in search of a certain restaurant with Swiss cuisine. It was supposedly owned by a philanthropic biker chef. If that doesn’t sound interesting, I don’t know what does. As soon as I read about it and its promise as one of the best and most affordable Swiss places in town, I knew I had to wake myself up from my nausea-induced weakness and venture out into the dark. I looked up the place on Google Maps; seemed doable. I got off the tram as far as it would take me and decided to walk the rest of the way. That’s when the darkness, steepness and nausea all hit me at once.
Dreaming of Swiss fondue and rostis (fried potatoes), I willed myself to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Following the “My Location” blue dot on the Google Maps app on my blackberry, it seemed I was nearing my destination. I tried to ignore the eerie feeling I got from the deserted street as I walked with my expensive camera. Finally, I arrived at the address that Google Maps had promised would lead to melted-cheese-mayhem and looked at the buildings expectantly. I saw no restaurant with glowing fondue pots inside, no rugged chef dude, and not even a motorbike as consolation. Seriously? Had my food expedition been rendered a failure?
It was around 9pm and the thought of backtracking and resigning myself to room service seemed criminal after all my effort. I willed myself to walk a little further until I came to the main street I saw in the distance. Ahh…light…possibility of a meal. Ok, I told myself, I’ll keep walking. Ten minutes later, I reached the main street and saw no open restaurants except a little spot right across from me called Madame Lee. Eying it, I had a few reservations:
a. I am always skeptical of little hole-in-the-wall Asian eating joints. Same with Mexican. After many a bad experience with food poisoning, I steer clear of those no matter how much of an emergency it is.
b. In Geneva, most restaurants, including exotic cuisines post their menus in French. While I can read some French (poulet=chicken; fromage=cheese), I don’t know enough to understand all the words on a menu. A word that looks to me like it should be a kind of cheese is really eel and what looks to me like a homonym for pork turns out to be a leafy vegetable.
With the weight of skepticism in my heart, I crossed the street to review the menu. It was in English!! And it had vegetarian Thai food! And inside the empty restaurant, stood Madame Lee herself, my angel in pants, and god bless her, she spoke English. The restaurant itself was decorated with numerous cheesy Asian motifs and I could only hope that the food was more authentic. I ordered the tofu and vegetables in red curry sauce with white rice. Make it spicy, I told her.
I settled down in the empty restaurant and feigned interest in my book while I restlessly waited for the food to arrive. As soon as it came out, piping hot, I put my book away and pounced on my chopsticks. A morsel of rice, tofu, curry sauce and green pepper. It was a surreal moment, the perfect morsel… delicious, spicy, exactly what I didn’t know I needed.
The food at the end of the tunnel

Madame Lee Restaurant

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