Tah-dig seeking its essence
By Shoorideh Sanandaji and Moji Agha
July 2, 2002
It is only a few months since I have arrived in the U.S. I am here for a relatively
short visit. Being Iranian, I "hang around" the Iranian-American community.
This experience has been quite interesting.
To me, you Iranian-Americans are a bit strange. You know, I don't fully understand
some of your behavior. Among such behavior the more interesting ones are those whom
a friend of mine calls "Super-Iranian".
Some of you seem ashamed to be Iranian, while some others seem way
way way too proud of being Iranian. Where did moderation go? Things that in Iran
people take for granted, and consider being completely ordinary, here somehow become
"historical, mythical," etc. (See the poem below).
One clear example is our good old tah-dig or "pot-bottom". In Iran, like
most others, I used to enjoy as much tah-dig as I could get, but it was not a prime
symbol of Iranian civilization, as I found it out to be here in America.
Let me tell you what happened recently. I was invited to a potluck dinner, where
people from different countries had brought their favorite foods. Being Iranian,
I can fully understand why the local Iranians here in Tucson would not wish to be
left behind in the race for culinary superiority!
One Iranian friend had brought a dish of baaghali-polo, and of course, it had a delicious
crust of saffron-gold tah-dig at the bottom of its pot. I was very amused to see
our "Super-Iranian" guest make a huge deal out of his tah-dig.
He gathered everyone around the table, declaring, like a peacock, that it was "show
time". He then turned the pot upside down in order to unveil the seductive tah-dig,
in the most dramatic fashion possible. I did not know if I should be proud or be
Then, this other Super-Iranian -- who wishes to remain anonymous (see picture above)
-- started staring intently at the vulnerable tah-dig, with such lust in his eyes,
as if he was about, not to eat it, but to make love to it! Look at his eyes! Wow!
Then, there was another Super-Iranian at the party.
You readers of Iranian.com know this gentleman quite well. This Tucsonan-from-Natanz
is your very own Moji Agha. He too was watching the exciting tah-dig show at the
When he saw the eyes of the guy in the picture, and the funny way he was looking
at the oppressed tah-dig, rather than being amused, he scratched his graying temple
thoughtfully, sat down in a chair, pulled out his notepad, and looking like a modern-day
Hafiz, wrote a GRAND poem about the humble tah-dig! Amazing! Moji Agha as Hafiz?
True to form, it turned out that Moji was writing a rather serious poem -- but about
tah-dig! You heard it right: A "serious" poem about tah-dig!
He told me later on, before showing me the actual poem, that he had consulted with
two of his American poet friends, and had asked them to edit his poetic handiwork
-- entitled "Iranian desire!"
I have come to America, only to discover that Iranians here make an incredibly huge
deal out of something as ordinary as tah-dig. Granted, tah-dig is unbelievably delicious,
but I could never imagine someone making a show out of putting this delicious dish
on the table, another person looking at it with such culinary lust in his eyes, and
yet another person writing a serious poem about the whole episode -- connecting it
with history, mythology, civilization, etc.
I believe that in this situation what our Great Rumi says holds true:
Har kasi koo door maand az asl-e kheesh
Baaz jooyad roozegaar-e vasl-e kheesh
One who suffers separation from his her essence
seeks to return to his/her blissful Union.
I think that the phenomenon of Super-Iranian-ness is a manifestation of the frustrated
desire of those souls who use to take for granted the blessings of their homeland.
Now, they find themselves separated from the bliss of such connectedness. When they
find a sign or symbol of that integrated state, which they no longer enjoy, they
try to magnify and totalize that symbol to make them feel whole again.
O boy, I got way too serious here. Now, you be the judge. Look at the picture, read
the poem (VERY CAREFULLY, as Moji insists) and tell me what you think.
By: Moji Agha
Iranian desire is historical
Its relationship with reality
has been sizzling
becoming imaginatively crisp
underneath a heap of delicious fluffy rice
the ancient spice
of the mythical love of
Iranian desire is crunchy.
It is chewed
by the mysterious teeth of
the subtle taste of love
underneath superficial experiences of
fluffy and soft
The desire itself
rather than materializing
can burn at every precarious moment
with the perfectionistic fire of
to what IS.
Oh, Iranian desire
I beg thee
I beg thee
Don't be so mythically delicious
moderate your unrealisticness,
even if you have to lose
some of your proud ancient zest,
who cares if the mouth of imagination
does not water as much.