13 December 2011

A Traditional Iranian Breakfast

Good morning!

I mentioned yesterday that we went over to our friend Ali's home on Saturday morning for breakfast. Ali wanted to share a traditional homemade bread with us and show us how a good breakfast is done...Iranian style!

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew there was going to be bread, but that was about it. I was pleasantly surprised to find a delicious meal, and even more good friends- Navid and his wife Zhoobin!

By day (and sometimes night) Ali studies for his PhD in engineering from UCF. But when he has some time off Ali transforms into a master chef, cooking up some amazing meals! So far he has made us two other traditional meals and both were to die for!

Ali grew up in a family of women, and didn't learn how to cook until he moved to the US to study and had to fend for himself. I think it's done him well, and his mother and sisters would be shocked that he's such a professional!

This Iranian Barbari bread is made by hand. It is a wheat yeast bread and is sprinkled with sesame seeds for cooking. When you break off pieces to eat you can split the bread open (kind of like a thick pita) and fill it with goodies.

Traditionally, you fill it with Tabriz cheese... it's like a feta but much fresher tasting. (You can see the cheese above in the top left corner of the table.) Some other fillings were fresh butter, raspberry jam, and cream cheese. It was so tasty and I could have easily eaten a whole loaf.

Of course, no breakfast (or any meal for that matter) would be complete without cup after cup of Persian hot tea. It has become my favorite tea to drink and the spices warm and relax you as you sip. (I will have a Persian tea tutorial soon, just waiting to purchase one more bit of appliance to make it the real deal.)

From left to right: Navid, Zhoobin, Hannah, John, and Ali.

We had such a great time talking. We caught up on the last couple months of our lives, discussed languages and cultures and Iranian cuisine. Ali and Navid are both engineers (electrical and mechanical, respectively) and Zhoobin is an M.D. Many times I think John and I just sit there, trying out hardest to soak up their intelligence. It is always a delight to be in their presence and enjoy the mixing of our cultures.

There are many things I love in life, but nothing brings me more joy than sharing a meal with people so much different than myself, yet so much the same. Our governments tell us that we are enemies, that we should hate each other, and that we might one day be at war. But there we were, five people sitting in a room, sharing a meal, and laughing about the absurdity of it all with the knowledge that loving others and enjoying peace is as simple as pouring a cup of tea.

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite traditional breakfast from your travels?

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