Wednesday, October 14, 2009


So sorry for the short absence, loyal readers.  My parents were in town visiting these last few days and since they live so far away from me--and since this makes me very sad--I spent every moment possible with them.  We cooked and enjoyed together many delicious meals and drank many glasses of wine (although at least one of us woke up with a headache on any given morning), and went on sightseeing adventures to places far and wide, and so I'm filled with my typical sense of despair now that they are gone.  Some of you may have heard me express before my deep desire for the Star Trek beaming technology to become a reality.  Opportunities and commitments pull us and our loved ones in different directions and though we may put our families above everything else in our hearts, sometimes separation cannot be avoided.  Maybe instead of trying to be a writer I should be tinkering away at some fast-travel technology (ha!  it actually might be equally Sisyphean considering my limitations in science and math!).

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.

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