My friend, Lauren, lived in Tehran for 5 years so she is familiar with Persian food. When I asked her for new dishes to create she immediately pulled out her favorites: Chelo and Bandemjan. (I'll post how-to's for these later) Bademjan is an eggplant and lamb stew. Or in my case eggplant and shrimp. Chelo is rice, but its a really good
rice that takes over 5 hours to make. Complicated, yes, but its worth the 5 hour investment. I made one round last weekend and another yesterday since I refused to go outside in single digit wind chills.
I was feeling kinda smug in my Chelo accomplishment so I decided to brag. Naturally I called the Persian ex in Houston. I didn't bother to say 'Hi, its Jim, how have you been?', even though its been a year since we last spoke. I just blurted out.
My Chelo is better than your Chelo and my Bademjan kicks your Bademjan's ass!
He laughed, there was no need to ask who I was, he knew. We chatted idly for a while about mutual friends then eventually came back to the food. Food was our main thing in common on the surface; to say that we are foodies is an understatement. Beyond the surface it was our constant and compulsive need to learn that formed our commonality, our only
commonality. Our differences were what kept us together. We fought feverishly as a result of those differences, always followed by feverish making up which ultimately lead to our better understanding of each other. Learning, the hard way.
If you can make Chelo and Bandemjan, you are officially Persian. Now you need a Persian to do the official tasting, I'll be up in 4 hours.
OK, let me interject. If anyone other
than Tariq was to say this I would laugh, since it would be insane to think that someone would hop in their car and drive four hours to have dinner, particularly when they haven't been invited. But this isn't someone else, its him, the King Of Impulse
. This was one of our deal-breakers - crazy impulsiveness. Novel in the beginning but after 18 months of non-stop impulsiveness combined with wicked jealously and a tendency to drink too much, not so good.
So I laughed it off.
Very funny, how are your sisters?
They're great. Did you want a red or white wine with dinner?
Consistency is only good when you like the thing that is consistent. One of the other deal-breakers was the pitbull stubborness. If only because I am the same way. Once an idea has lodged itself into Tariq's mind it is going to happen; like a bull to a red cape he will charge through without any concern for what gets trampled along the way.
Very funny smart guy, you don't even know where I live.
I win, I win! I never updated him on my new address since we have a phone-based or in-person friendship now.
Actually, I do, your friend John gave me your address a couple of years ago. I just looked it up on MapQuest, it looks easy enough to find.
John, that moron!
Seriously Tariq, I have friends coming over, theres no space for another I'm afraid.
OK, now I'm doing my laugh, the laugh that is to cover up the fact that Im getting pissed off. Pissed off and a little concerned because I can hear the furious keyboard clicking in the background. What the hell are you up to, crazy man.
Good, I'd like meeting your friends, you have excellent taste in friends. I just booked a room at the Holiday Inn at Love Field, it looks close to you.
Dammit, now I have to find friends to come over last-minute for dinner since I just lied out of my ass, lol.
Jim, we haven't seen each other in two years, this will be a good way for us to catch up. We should spend more time together than once every two years, you were always a very special person to me.
Pure spin doctor.
For those of you who do not speak Tariq-ese, let me translate. I'm not seeing anyone right now and I'm bored.
But the words appeal on both a logical and sentimental level, don't they? He quickly found the secret to winning situational discrepancies with me -- appeal to my sense of logic and throw in a side of smooth but not too effusive sentiment. Bastard. I know I'm not winning this one because I can already hear the sound of jeans and boots going into an overnight bag. The bull has lowered his head, the horns are aimed, either step aside or you are going to be gored.
I should also explain that Tariq doesn't work, not conventionally. His family owns a grocery store and rental properties. When his father died, it left him as the man of the family so he calls the shots and has absolute control over his domain. This was also a sticky point with us since he has no concept of having to be somewhere at a certain time or having to answer to someone else.
I could try the I'll be asleep by the time you get here
routine but its only 5p and he knows I don't get to sleep before 1a. I could try the I have to study
excuse but he would browse UTD's website and find out that finals were over last week. Maybe the I'm seeing someone special and therefore you being here would be awkward
plea? Nope, he would double back to John and discover that isnt true. But I have to work tomorrow. Nope, he knows I work at home and he probably remembers that I never work in December. Maybe I have plans later? No, I just screwed myself into a corner with the imaginary friends coming to dinner, lol.
That sounds nice Tariq, I'll see you around 9:30
He brought red and white, we had a little of both with dinner and we did catch up. I admitted that there were no friends coming over, he smiled his smug, all-knowing smile.
And you thought I didn't know that?
He liked my place calling it 'compact and well appointed, just like you'. (Wait, was that a short joke? No, I guess not, not if you say it with a smile :) He even admitted that my versions of Chelo and Bademjan were better than his, which must have been difficult considering his bigger-than-Texas ego. At 1am he washed, dried and put away all of the dishes, which I found interesting because he never once did that before.
All things considered it was a good evening. But there were too many hestitations on his way out, too many downward glances avoiding eye contact, the free-flowing smooth Persian rap stuck dry in his throat. I opened the door for him to leave but he closed it.
I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for the horrible way I acted at the end.
He is referring to the 'unfortunate incident' involving his impulsiveness, jealousy and drinking too much that ended with neighbors calling the Houston police. Of course, at the time, he deemed this my
fault because he could never accept responsibility for anything. It was distinctly over after that day, no discussion necessary.
Don't be silly, that was 14 years ago, we were kids, all is forgiven.
14 years. Some people are slow to make an apology. Forgiven, yes. Forgotten, no, but we'll save those ugly details for some other day.
Good, I'll call you tomorrow?
14 years. Its a long time to carry a monkey.