Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why My Breakfast Hasn't Turned Me Into a Rabid Jihadist

Dear FBI,

I thought I better explain my breakfast today. The Persian Cauliflower Kuku I ate this morning may sound like food for jihadists plotting the destruction of the US, and so I'd like to clear a few things up. It is Persian, which of course is just a euphemism for Iranian, and we all know what that means.

When I ordered Najmieh Batmanglij's cookbook, Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey from Amazon, I was afraid I might be making a bad impression. Batmanglij makes no effort to hide or apologize for the fact that she was born in Iran. Her cookbook features recipes and tales from regions as diverse as China and Italy, but most are central Asian. Iranian, Uzbek, Afghan and Turkish dishes make it look like a veritable Al Jazeera of food. But I really bought it for my cookbook collection. I didn't mean to show interest in recipes incorporating pistachios, pomegranates or saffron. My wife hasn't said anything, but I can tell -- she wished I'd picked it up in a regular store and paid cash.

The eggs, cheese, and cauliflower of the Kuku didn't use too much fat so I thought it looked like a hearty, healthy breakfast. I figured it wouldn't hurt anything. It was our family breakfast before going to church today. We haven't gone quite as much as we should, but I thought I'd let you guys at the FBI know, we are church-going types. Although, we're Presbyterians.

The recipe was kind of complicated. It had 16 ingredients. I wonder if such recipes are meant to boggle and distract Americans. First, I had to prepare an egg mixture, sort of like an omelet: 6 eggs, a little baking powder, flour and cheese (mozzarella and/or Parmesan), then I had to saute onions and garlic. Next, I added the florets from a head of cauliflower and a whole bunch of spices. No American recipe would use 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper, 1 tsp of cumin, 1/4 tsp of paprika, 1/4 tsp of turmeric, 1/8 tsp of cayenne and a 1/4 cup of flat parsley.

I was supposed to put the onions and garlic in a non-stick skillet, add the cauliflower and spices and when the cauliflower was soft, add the egg mixture. Okay, and are you ready for this? Wait for the eggs to set and then put it in the broiler. Yeah, fine except I had been cooking in a non-stick and then I realized -- I'm going to transfer this to an oven safe skillet! Just a reminder that we all need to be on our guard! Thank God for those cast iron skillets I've been dragging around with me since my earliest cooking days. If I can get government approval to make this dish again, I'd use a Dutch oven next time.

The dish was really good. My only complaint was that I thought it might be a little salty. An easy adjustment. My wife and I liked it so much that we had seconds. Even our spice shy daughter said she loved it. Sometimes she sings herself to sleep with "It's a Grand Old Flag," or "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy." I figure, if she likes it, it's safe for the rest of America.

No comments: