Shorwa-e-gosht

A beautiful woman with very short hair, a red lipstick and a thin cigarette in her hand cooked for us shorwa-e-gosht yesterday.

It was one of those rare moments of trust and familiarity that will stay in our memory for a long time.

Being invited for lunch at someone’s house is not the most common of things and when it happens in a spontaneous and unplanned way, it makes things even more special. The spontaneity of the arrangement gave us the privilege to try shorwa-e-gosht.

“We are really sorry, had we planned this lunch in advance we could have cooked something else. This is simple, family food: it is not what we would cook for guests.”

Could we be any happier?

Food has always been one of the ways in which I venture into the discovery of a new place, eating local food makes me feel that I am getting close to a place, makes me feel I am beginning to understand.

Tasting “family food” yesterday made me grounded, made me feel I was fully here perhaps for the first time since I arrived a few months ago.

“It is good to have shorwa once a week in winter, it takes a long time to cook and I can only cook it on my day off work.”

Preparing the shorwa is a long process, it takes at least two hours and this is only thanks to the pressure cooker, otherwise it would take much longer.

It starts with chopping and frying onion and garlic. Next comes stewing carrots and potatoes with chunks of beef. Once they are properly softened, potatoes and carrots are removed and the meat is cooked for some more time with water and tomatoes. This last phase is what makes the rich, thick soup.

When ready to eat, the meat id removed from the broth, chopped in smaller pieces and served separately.

I offered to set up the table, she agreed with a smile.

Golden rimmed glasses and cutlery. One serving dish with potatoes and carrots, one with meat, a basket of fresh bread and deep bowls full of steaming soup.

Her brother, our host, told us the proper way to eat. We looked at him and repeated his gestures.

We took the bread, cut it in small bites and put it in our bowl, enough to soak all the soup. Then took a bit of meat, a potato and a carrot and put them in our bowl. Then a sprinkle of black pepper. And then we were ready to eat.

It felt hearty and homey. It warmed by body and my heart. It made me happy.

It was all perfect, but…

The beautiful woman with very short hair prepared everything and left. She did not eat with us. She came back to serve us tea.

A stark reminder of where we are.

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