Walter Mencken 9 a.m., Oct. 1
Sagmani’s: 99-Cent Garden of Eatin’
I had forgotten about the wonderful Mr. Sagmani till right now, seven in the evening, humping down into El Cajon from the trolley.
I'm hollow-gut, short on the ready, and long way to walk. I cross East Main right where El Cajon Boulevard is born – or ends. The two roads kinda fuse right here.
And just across Forrester Creek sits this kinda strip mall that time forgot. Really the only bright spot is Sagmani’s (478 W. Douglas Avenue, El Cajon, 619-440-0077). And yes, his lights are on. And through the windows you can see men playing cards and drinking cups of tea, in the Chaldean-Iraqi way.
Always liked Mr. Sagmani. He’s from Nineveh, one of the true Biblical cities. What other place can you say has been going 8,000 years? It’s near Mosul, by the fabled Tigris river, in the north of Iraq.
But Mr. Sagmani – Steve - was lucky to make it out of Iraq unscathed.
So I’m remembering all this drama as I head for his place past the tire shop next door.
And hey, sigh of relief. See on the window they’re still advertising the deal of the century:
That's fine by me.
But Mr. Sagmani’s not here. His son Frank is running things right now.
Whatever, my request is simple.
“Two of those 99-cent kebabs,” I say.
And in two minutes he has them for me, smokin’, maybe 8-inches long each, on a little polystyrene plate, wrapped in foil, dropped in a plastic bag.
It doesn’t take me but a minute to strip off the wrappings, once I’m outside on East Main.
Oh yes. Hot, herby, meaty, steamy. Like burgers without the bun.
I ate the first one before I could get to a camera...But I swear, specially when you’re hungry, two of these kebabs can be the most delicious two-buck belly filler East of Eden. And for 99 cents each?
Guess we should jes’ call Sagmani’s the Garden of Eatin.’