Rainbow Caribbean Cuisine

After returning twice in two weeks, I’m coming to terms with the fact that the chicken roti at Rainbow is both addictive and causes something like a Eureka moment. (Oh, you can’t help but think upon first bite. That’s why people love this place.)

Don Henley’s “The End of the Innocence” is playing over the stereo; a years-younger Barack Obama looks out over the oxtail and snapper trays from a poster with an optimistic smile – it’s an interesting mix of old and new, but it’s a good one.

I brush my feet against the floor, sizing up the long bar of curries, rum cakes, and coconut desserts and wonder if Rainbow was the first tenant of this sunny spot in downtown Kitchener, scribbling absently about how kids-these-days might just grow up okay despite listening to Lady Gaga (next up on the stereo) sing about disco sticks if I (who is a self-professed lyrics girl) am only figuring out now how poignant some of my parents’ favorite songs really were. Sometimes it takes time to listen differently; time and years. It took me ’til last week to discover that Tom Cochrane’s “Big League” (a song sung many a time as my family piled into our van to send my brother or sister off to an early-morning hockey game) is firmly rooted in tragedy.

I digress. Food and music, particularly their combination, can take you anywhere.

The roti I’ve ordered is massive; sweet-savoury and staining my fingers even as I carve it. It’s too large to lift with anything resembling elegance, but this is a Very Good Thing – the roti wrap itself is pleasantly chewy without being dense, and it’s packed with tender, slow-cooked chicken, potatoes, and onions. I can already tell I’ll be taking the last third home for leftovers. Again! And I walked in starving. …Now to guard the leftovers from M.

One day I’ll make it to the goat curry; to the snapper dinner; to the Jamaican patties with their bright, flaky, egg-y pastry. I’m not usually the type to gravitate to a favorite and get stuck there, but there’s a first time for everything.

When I wrote this first, it was during the heart of Oktoberfest, and I think I’d ventured Downtown in search of a schnitzel, but I’m definitely glad my feet turned me this way.

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