Well, welcome to Texas where everything is BIG!
I spent last week in Houston with Jane and the Hope Stone crew. I left NYC with a lot of anxiety, like I have been walk ing around with a blindfold on not knowing what to expect but trying to move forward anyway. Now that I have returned, I am feeling as if small holes have been cut out and if I squint, I can see! One step at a time is what I keep telling myself, this way I don’t get overwhelmed.
I would like to say THANK YOU to PRISCILLA and SINA, my wonderful hosts while in Houston. They put up with me for a week, took great care of me and introduced me to delicious food from all over the world. Priscilla studies international dance styles, belly dancing being one of them. Some of her performances include Khaleeji (not sue how to spell it but thanks to Roman, I think that’s right.) It is pronounced Ka-lee-gi. Anyway, who’s that your asking? A Ball Python, yes Priscilla dances with a snake and the snake lives in the guest room! So, I am not petrified of snakes, but I don’t find them cuddly either. As a child, we had a snake for a short period of time, Boots, but he was only about one foot long, most snakes I encountered growing up where dead, shot or killed by my dad. These snakes were also poisonous! Priscilla’s snake is around four feet long. The first night I was a little apprehensive about sharing the room, Khaleeji is in an aquarium, but snakes are known to get out. So every time I would wake up in the middle of the night, I would shine my iphone towards the aquarium and triple check my safety. Needless to stay, Khaleeji stayed in her place and I never woke up to her cuddling with me in bed.
Also, I was accompanied by a dog, cat, and fish. Ok. Chispas the dog. Chispas means “Sparkie” in Spanish. Since I am not very good with remembering names in other languages, I always create my own so I remember. I often use this tactic when reading a book written about people in other countries. Anyway, I refered to the dog as “Cheese Puff.” That made you laugh huh! I think I may even name my next dog Cheese Puff, so cute. Well Cheesey is a 12 year old weiner dog and we believe she thinks I was brought to TX just for her. She really thought my duties were to pet her constantly with any extremity, especially my feet. Chispas is also a nervous dog and often pees when you first come home and pet her. It’s so cute because she is trying so hard not to, you can just see her shaking, and then her fat little short legs straddle out and it’s like she just pops. It’s like a water balloon exploding from her belly, she can’t help it. Next, Nairobi the cat, acts more like an exotic bird but is trimmed like a lion. She is so finiky, only to be pet a certain way. Finally became fond of me the day of my departure (just like an exotic bird right?) And lastly, the fish – cannot remember that fishs name to save my life. I know that it means sky in Farsi and you can pet the fish, it actually likes it. It swims to the top of the small aquiriam and wiggles as you rub your finger on it’s back.
Now to the food, my favorite part. I tried Persian food for the first time and it is delicious! You start the meal with fresh baked pita bread, feta cheese, radishes, and fresh herbs. You wrap it all up and eat it, I could have dined on that alone. For an app, we had Tadigh with veggie ghormeh sabzi and gheymeh (I think that’s right). What is that? It’s rice served with a stew. You know when you cook rice and it sticks to the bottom of the pan and it gets crunchy, well that is like a chip and you dip it in the stew. One stew tasted like collard greens and the other was a sweet lentil stew. Both good, but I am partial to collards. For our entrees, we had a little of everything: Koobideh (ground beef), Barg (thin sliced beef), and joojeh (cornish hen) kabobs. Absolutely excellent! The meat was so tender, it comes with basimati rice and a grilled tomato. My favorite part was mixing plain yogurt in with my rice, it is just as good as sour cream and much healthier. I can’t wait to eat Persian again. We also ate at “the boat” one night. It is this little dive in Kayti, TX that is in a restuarant shaped like a boat, I really think it should be featured on dinners, dives, ands drive ins. I ate over a dozen raw oysters, usually I rarely eat over 6, I just couldn’t stop myself. I think it is because I tried a michedada, a mexican drink similar to a concentrated bloody mary and you poor a beer on top of it. Let me tell you it is the perfect combo for oysters and fried catfish. And the favorite part of my experience was the bill, under $50 for: 3 dozen oysters (really more, they always add a few extra), 2 cups of gumbo, 3 fried catfish, fries, hush puppies, and 4 micheladas! That would cost an arm and a leg in NYC. I can’t wait to get to the SOUTH!
And one more THANK YOU to Patrick for driving me around everywhere I needed to go!
So, I think I got carried away, check back later this week for more on my trip to Houston.