Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kurdish Homecooking

In Egypt, they say "a man without a belly is like a house without furniture."  I have a feeling I am turning into a Kurdish Ikea.  Ari- the YES Academy project manager, and his brother Aram, who was an American Voices scholarship student in St. Louis, invited my boss John and me over for lunch at their family's home. It was a feast.

We had heaping plates of homemade Kurdish cuisine prepared by his mother and sister.  There was a giant plate of Kurdish biryani- saffron-hued rice spiced with cinnamon with roasted pistachios, raisins, potatoes and chicken on top.  We had heaping platefuls of the rice dish alongside a giant plateful of dolmas, various vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and onion stuffed with ground beef and rice as well as the usual grape leaf variety.  On the side were fresh cut cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley.  Given Middle Eastern hospitality there was no way to be done before my belly was beyond full.

Thankfully, a Kurdish siesta is part of the culture here.  Usually, every one gorges for lunch and then everything shuts down.  Basically, between two and five pm is dead time while everyone sleeps off their lunch-induced torpor.  And I am just a Roman.  It reminds me of my student days in Morocco, when we had a three-hour lunch break that consisted of gorging for an hour, watching Mexican soap operas dubbed into Arabic for an hour (Oh, Fernando Jose, shukran habibi) and then sleeping for an hour.  I am amazed I ever made it back to class.

Being back to carnivorous habits, I am finding digestion much slower than my veggie days.  I usually don't eat dinner after the hulking lunch.  I am enjoying the food here immensely, and think I made the right decision that if I wanted to appreciate Kurdish culture I had to eat meat, but I also look forward to my return to veggiedom.  

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