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  • Writer's pictureDiana Scalia

Sababa, La Rochelle

One of my favorite things to appreciate on the planet, is that humble chefs around the globe are kind enough to share their very special, incredibly delicious food with us.

This last Friday, my day of visiting art galleries got redirected in a wonderful way.

Having gotten a little lost and feeling a little hungry, I noticed that happy guests were dining at shady tables at a few cafés, and there was a nice breeze. In my brief experience, a relatively cool breeze was rare in La Rochelle.

One café was Sababa Houmousserie. Its little blackboard with just a few menu items lured me closer, and my angels whispered Do this, oh please do this.

Never dissing such an important message, I seated myself in the shade, and was greeted within minutes by Nathan, the very kind owner. I opted for the falafel sandwich. I had a very good feeling about this.

Being very discerning about falafel (like croissants, they have to be right), I was so happy that these were perfect. They were cuddled in a pocket pita with a yogurt-dressed salad of tomato, cucumber, olives, and even walnuts, and the ensemble could not have been more delicious. Every fiber of my being was ecstatic to experience these flavors.

I learned that Sababa would be closed in two days, for vacation. I promised Nathan that I would be back the next day!

Saturday was a scorcher and by 8pm a tiny breeze made my much-anticipated, return dining experience to Sababa, such a pleasure. This time I had to try the hummus, and chose its lamb accoutrement, with fresh-baked pita bread.

Please trust me when I say that this dish was one of the best I have ever eaten, and I wasn’t surprised. The hummus was silky-creamy, the lamb pieces perfectly tender, and the warm bread for dipping was heavenly. Clearly every single item had been prepared with the most loving of grace and intention, because I could taste it.

Gratefully I got a bit acquainted with Nathan after my meal. I learned that all of his recipes are his very own. He is a native of France and has traveled the globe, and his English is very good. I also learned that his family would be bicycling along the coast for their holidays, and I promised him that his 9-year-old daughter was far more courageous than 9-year-old me would have been for a trek like that!

For me, this type of amazing food and sweet hospitality is what makes travel such a blessed experience. I promised Nathan I would return during my next visit to La Rochelle, and I meant that sincerely.

I so very much look forward to another divine appointment, just like this one had been.

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