Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vegan + Bennachin = Woo-hoo!

The other night we dined at Bennachin and all I can say is THANK YOU AFRICA FOR YOUR LACTOSE-INTOLERANCE!!* I assume that this is what’s behind the absence of dairy throughout the menu, with the exception of dessert. So far we’ve been twice. There was a bit of a downside to the first trip – the folks in the kitchen had forgotten to turn on the vent hood, as I found out after the fact. Our eyes felt a little burn from the time we walked in, but then we made the mistake of ordering the curry. We had the furthest seat from the kitchen, but by god that spice travelled! It was clear when the curry was set on our table that it was the source of our eyes’ woes. We ate some and then took turns going outside to air out our eyeballs. I waited too long, until they were screwed shut and squeezing out a steady flow of tears. I stumbled outside, down the steps (thank goodness there were only two, because I couldn’t see a thing) and waited a while before going back in to eat the rest of dinner. We didn’t finish the curry. I think it’s one of those dishes you have to be a native to enjoy.

But for the rest…I cannot begin to say how much I love this food!! What a great restaurant! The jama-jama (spinach) is dreamy, the fried plantains heavenly. The vegetables over couscous were surprisingly delicious, and the coconut rice didn’t really taste like coconut, so Johnny enjoyed it too. The ginger drink is AMAZING – there's nothing like ginger's sweet punch in the throat! And I also loved the red tea. The best part is leaving there feeling like I’ve eaten something more nutritional than not – a rarity in the restaurant experience. Wish this place accepted some form of payment other than cash, but them’s the breaks.

* I received a comment from someone who was offended by this remark. I wish he/she had left a more specific criticism so I could respond appropriately, but I'll just have to make do with what I've got. First, I certainly did not intend to seem ignorant by referring to a link between Africa and lactose intolerance; for the record, I am aware that 1) not every adult in Africa is lactose-intolerant and 2) Africa is not the only continent on the planet with a high prevalence of lactose intolerance. Indeed, only a small percentage of the world's population can digest milk sugar in adulthood. Check out this map I found of the percentages of lactose intolerance in different places (from Wikipedia):
And here's an article about how lactose intolerance is truly the norm, rather than a disorder that should be treated (as the dairy industry would have us believe):

By the way, if this had been a review of a Chinese restaurant, I would have just as readily thanked Asia for its lactose intolerance.

I try my best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, so I ask my readers to do the same for me. When I make a faux pas -- let me know, but please be nice about it. I'm doing the best I can.

**Update: Bennachin now accepts credit cards!


  1. As a vegetarian (almost vegan) of 25 years, i dont even remember what meat tasts like, but i dont like the smell.
    I think after a while that happens.
    I have done a good bit of reading on early human anthropology, and for much of our history we ate very little meat, or were total vegetarians.
    It is somewhat of a myth that ancient man were big carnivores.
    Well, i got a bit off the topic, but to me eating meat is not that natural, and we loose, at least to some extent the desire for it, after a while.
    All that said, i do like veggie burgers, though they dont really remind me of meat...

  2. Erin,
    Just found your blog...thought it insightful until I read, "THANK YOU AFRICA FOR YOUR LACTOSE-INTOLERANCE!!". What value did this comment have other than displaying your ignorance. How disappointing.
    ~S. Aimee

  3. S. Aimee: Please note that I addressed your comment in an update to the post. I certainly meant no offense!