nibbling around the fringes of a Sublime Hangover i found myself coasting around on my bicycle this afternoon, and decided to track down this “chick pea shami” place that a friend had long ago recommended, but had not since investigated. all i really knew was that it was tiny and easy to miss, and somewhere in the vicinity of Pins and St-Laurent. i have been consistently perplexed by the supposed existence of this place, as neither myself nor anyone else i know could imagine what it was or where it could be, or remember ever having noticed anything of the like along that stretch of des Pins.
as it turns out, it’s name is Chez Nouri, and it is SO EASY TO MISS, to the point of being actively difficult to find, providing you do not have the address (which, by the way is 10. really just west of St-Laurent), but now you do, and therefore have no excuse. if you are perhaps familiar with the Ungava Factory Outlet (in the loft building that always has piles of garbage out on the sidewalk), you just walk in there, and literally in the hallway leading in (it would be inaccurate and aggrandizing to call it a foyer), there are a couple of stools and a little lunch counter, behind which there is a man, whose name i understand is Nouri.
honestly, i am hauntingly enamoured with this place already.
sitting on my stool i am suspended in the cottony silence peculiar to old, dessicated warehouses and office buildings – those that seem derelict before their time, or conversely, those that have outlived their relevance. Nouri has his little radio tuned to a classical station, whose soundtrack adds a gravity to his calm, deliberate movements as he navigates the narrow space he shares with only a fridge, kitchen stove, sink and some cupboards. i have elsewhere had a triple-chocolate orange cookie for breakfast with my espresso, and wonder whether it is the consequent sugar terror combining with my hangover’s weakly lurching stomach that laces the serenity of the whole experience with the unsettling frisson of dislocation, uncertainty. he heats the pita for my shami on a stovetop element and fills it with spiced chick pea mash (not hummous – something, burgery, or once fried, but still creamy and soft), tomatoes, lettuce, pickle and tzatziki. it is simple and comforting, delicately spiced, and nothing special, but simultaneously incredibly special.
i cannot help thinking that if i come back here often enough something important will happen. i will learn something, or i’ll fall in love, or become embroiled in some manner of international intrigue. i will, improbably and by virtue of mistaken identity, find myself in a taxi in Morocco with a mysterious briefcase.
so intend to continue going, to try all the different shamis (sandwiches), and the saffron cookies and fresh juices and await my twist of fate.
whether or not i wait in vain, i trust, as the menu promises, i shall be bien nourri.
also with your sandwich you get a little ramekin of soup. a little ramekin. that’s cute.