Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"A" Is For Afghan

I haven't written in a while, but the Sprog is, I’m happy to report, an adventurous eater. Yes, he’ll pick green off of his food, but he’ll try anything once. Or twice if we tell him he can’t have any more. At the end of this month, we’re going to my sister’s wedding in England, and then we’re taking a couple days in London and then going to France. While we were cuddling in bed this weekend, I said to him, “You know, while we’re in England and France, I’m going to ask you to try jellied eel, and frogs’ legs, and foie gras, and snail?”

The Sprog thought about it all, and nodded, and asked, “And spiders?”

Sure, why not?

It’s very easy to fall into a rut of serving our son the same thing because I know he likes it. We can go a long way with just shrimp and noodles. But with our belief that our child’s tastebuds should be cosmopolitan, my partner Ted and I are beginning on the alphabet tour of world cuisine. Every week if we can, but at least every month, we’re going to try the food from a different culture from A to Z.

Living in one of the world’s most diverse cities, we have a number of choices of where to begin. Argentinean, though we love it, seemed too easy, all steak and potatoes. Even easier, we could begin with traditional American, but we figured that’s the default. We wanted something exotic to start.

Afghanistan, of course, has been much in the news over the last ten years. We are evidently drawing our troops down from there, but we have also recently had the deadliest conflict of the war, with 38 people killed when their helicopter was shot down. There are maybe a dozen Afghan restaurants in the United States, and one of them – named Khybar – is only a few miles from me.

The Sprog loved the Qabili Palau, which was similar to an Indian rice palao, but with the addition of fried strips of carrots, raisins, almonds, and cubes of veal. Then there was the red lentil Dol, which I thought was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Finally, the house winner, Mantu, of Uzbek origin, steamed dumplings filled with onions and beef, and then topped with beef curry and yogurt. Dainty and delicious.

So, “A” was a hit. Off to a good start.