One of our adventures was dinner at a Persian restaurant in Washington D.C. called Shamshiry. Before we arrived, my father told me the story of the Shamshiry kabobs in the Tehran bazaar. He used to go there as a child and watch the men cook the kabobs on big swords (as opposed to our wimpy skewers) and then with a thrust of the hand throw the succulent chunks of lamb and beef ten feet away onto a waiting plate, where they landed in a perfect circle.
Shamshiry turned out to be a bustling, almost diner-like Persian restaurant. We ordered glasses of Doogh--a traditional Persian yogurt drink made with herbs and spices (delicious!). Then came our plates of heaping saffron rice and chelo kabob. Persian rice, in my opinion, is one of the world's delicacies. No one can make rice like the Persians. My father rinses the rice several times before placing a pile of it inside his cherished rice pot (Persians are said to first grab their rice pot in a fire or an earthquake--before the family photos) to soak overnight. The next day the rice cooks in the pot over a bed of yogurt. When it's done, the rice on the bottom of the pan hardens into a circle to make crunchy rice, or tadig. The rice on top is fluffy and never sticks together--each grain of rice is independent of the next. Then, the fragrant and colorful Persian saffron is poured on top. The result melts in your mouth, and it's even better than an M&M. Here's a picture of my meal at Shamshiry:
Again, you ask, isn't this supposed to be a writing blog?
I was moved to write about this because of a description written about a salad on the menu at Shamshiry:
There is an old Persian saying that it takes four people to prepare a salad. A generous man to add the oil, a stingy man to add the vinegar, a wise man to give the right touch of salt and pepper, and a fool to mix it well.I thought this was such a perfect description of the art of cooking and one that made me appreciate each bite I took that evening--sitting at a table with my most loved people and eating food that's existed (and been perfected) for generations too far back to imagine. As I took my first bite I imagined my father at five- or six-years-old, staring wide-eyed as the kabobs landed on his plate in the busy bazaar. I may never get to see the place where my father was born, but sharing that meal with him helped bring it to life in my mind's eye.
I think this is another great lofty goal for my writing--to do the kind of writing that transports. Like a carefully prepared meal.