of lentils and porriage
i imagine the surface to be pebbled and crisp,
toasted flour barely clinging to the dark edges, sandy to the
touch, smelling of secret recipes
September 7, 2005
This is my
niece Daniela's blog. She is a pastry
chef and just got back from France where she spent the last 2 months working
as an intern in several well-known restaurants and bakeries. She's
half Iranian. Also see kitchenlog.net. -- Mandana Khadivi-Brown
my mom has been telling me these mouth-watering
stories of iranian breakfasts. after i had a traditional week-day
breakfast of warm
pita bread, salty feta cheese and sweet dark tea, she told me the
our driver or someone from the household would wake up early
in the morning to buy the bread. bread is not made at home, we
leave that to the bakers. and they take it out of the ovens and
place it into the driver's waiting hands, hot from the stones and
coals on which it was baked.
i imagine the surface to be pebbled and crisp, toasted flour
barely clinging to the dark edges, sandy to the touch, smelling
of secret recipes. and when broken, a perfumed steam rising to
meet the nose. the way she describes how she used to spread plenty
of butter and sprinkle plenty of sugar on top before eating each
snow-shoe sized loaf makes me hunger for her memories. using her
hands to gesticulate the spreading, and her eyes to imitate the
way the butter melts into the bread, we end up losing ourselves
in the collective memory of this simplest of foods. and sadly having
only grocery store pita with which to satisfy our imagination.
i like being reminded that france is not the only country who
has historically placed high regard upon their bread; besides other
european nations, we have to remember that the middle east is the
birth place of agriculture, and primarily that of grain for bread.
today too, she expanded on iranian breakfasts, telling me about
lentils with cinnamon (pronouced "adasi") and a hot porriage
with turkey meat melted inside ("haleem"). a dent in
the middle leaves enough room for a butter and brown sugar nest
where i can just imagine telling myself to eat from the outside
in to save the best part for last.
the cinnamon lentils are more common than the porriage, and a
man on a bicycle is heard often in the mornings calling its name
to neighbors and strangers who come rushing to their doorsteps
to pay him for bowls of the hot treat. his mother or wife perhaps
supplies his transportation with the food leaving him to deliver
and he refuels as often as necessary. what a welcome wake up call
in comparison to our garbage trucks! or the horn blowing of nyc.
from what i understand, the porriage is more of a specialty that
needs to be started the night before to reach the proper consistency.
she talked about how her grandmother prepared it. grains are simmered
for hours and turkey meat is added, melting into the thickness,
adding body and nutrients to otherwise boring hot breakfast cereal.
i will be doing more research on these iranian breakfasts, testing,
and updating with recipes soon.