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(Fat) lost brother
Half-Libyan construction workers AND food lovers

By Siamack Salari
September 13, 2002
The Iranian

We've got the builders in at the moment. For the last 4 weeks they have been hammering, sawing and drilling away under our roof to create what I hope will be a very large room indeed. It will be completely self-contained, with its own bathroom and fire escape.

But this isn't a story about our new loft space. This is a story about the guys who are building it.

First we have John. A handsome, tall and very business-minded Jamaican. He is the first to wake us up at 8 a.m. every morning except Sundays when he turns up at 9. I have known John for years and consider him a good friend.

Then we have his two sidekicks, T and S. I wasn't sure about these two guys to begin with. Maybe it had something to do with the way they would look at me, trying to work out who and what I was.

As we all got to know each other I began to like them both a great deal. T is half Spanish and half Libyan whereas S is half Scottish (yes, Scottish) and half Libyan. I can hear them both, every day and all day, chattering away in Arabic and laughing loudly while John occasionally loses his cool and bellows at them at the top of his voice.

Sometimes one of them is sent out on an errand to by cold drinks, sweets or a KFC lunch. Only yesterday I stepped into our back yard to see the progress being made and noticed a single cup cake, untouched, sitting on our bin. I tried to work out whether it had been left there deliberately or left there to be thrown away.

The cup cake and I eyed each other up for a few long minutes. I could hear John and the boys moving things and talking to each other way up under the roof. A decision had to be made because I couldn't bare it any longer - nor could the cup cake. In fact the cup cake and I were gagging for each other. I grabbed it and stuffed it into my mouth before you could say "fat boy!", then I quickly headed back into the house.

Not 20 minutes had elapsed before I heard John's distinct booming voice yelling in our back garden: "Who ate my cup cake?" On hearing this I ran upstairs to Varinder and started an intense discussion about whether or not we needed a new doormat for the front door. It was no good. She too could hear John.

"Did you eat John's cake?"

"No!" I replied indignantly.

V continued with her work but wasn't convinced. I walked to the back of the house and looked down onto the yard. John was holding an empty cup cake wrapper and speaking to T. He had calmed down considerably and I got the impression that the guys had convinced him that it couldn't have been them and the only other person with motive, opportunity, etc, was the fat fuck home owner. They didn't actually say fat fuck but I am sure they thought it.

With that, for some spooky sixth sense reason, John and T both looked up at the upstairs window and my face peering through it at the same time. I pulled away but it was too late, I had already been spotted. I stood upright again and turned to walk into the hallway.

V was standing right behind me and had been all the time.

"You ate his cup cake you fat fuck!"

"Yes I did."

She turned and left the room.

The real point of this article isn't the cup cake however. The point of this story is that T and S make me feel like I am among long lost brothers. We all enjoy food in the same way and can discuss recipes for hours. They even seem to enjoy my guide tours of our spice cabinet.

Anyway, a few days ago V ordered me to make vegetarian Khoresh Bademjoun. I grilled the aubergines in my George Forman grill while letting the pre-soaked yellow split peas simmer away in my tomato based sauce. I was adding advieh and mixed spice when I noticed the boys looking at me in the kitchen.

"Smells nice," said T.

"Do you want to try some?" I asked.

I reached for a couple of spoons in the cutlery draw as they walked up to my saucepan and me. As I turned to face them I saw they had taken a slice of bread each from the bread bin and were about to use the slices to take heaped amounts from the sauce pan.

I stepped aside and watched, smiling as they dipped their bread into the sauce and then into their mouths, catching any drips with their other hand under their chins. The drips that missed their hands fell back into the saucepan. Had V seen this she would have a) tried to stop them and b) not touched the dish afterwards. So I didn't tell her.

After they tasted it they both launched into a description of almost identical dishes in Libya. I have promised to have an Iranian night to celebrate our new room under the roof. I will cook Khoresh Fesenjoon and vegetarian Bademjoun. Most importantly, however, I want them to sample Iran's legendary rice and tadeeg, which I have become an expert at cooking.

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