There are nights when I crave the unique and adventurous, the dishes with names I can't pronounce and ingredients I've never heard of, much less shopped for or cooked at home -- tropical fruits with pungent or savory back notes, the odd bits of meat that never even see a grocery-store butcher counter, bitter greens that may be backyard staples in another part of the world. But then I realize those foods are only unique and adventurous because I've never tried them, and that many ethnic specialties are really everyday dishes in their homelands or perhaps perennial favorites eaten only during special occasions or holidays. A Thanksgiving turkey may be a once-a-year treat, but it's hardly exotic or intimidating, unless perhaps you're from a place with no turkeys. Little India (the quiet one in the University of Denver neighborhood) has become my fallback restaurant, my back-up date, for times when I want Indian flavors, only with the guaranteed comfort of a family dinner or a holiday meal. It's a place where the food is consistent, approachable, even mild -- but sometimes that's exactly what I crave.
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