Saturday, February 21, 2009

The wind carried many mouth-watering smells: boiling cow fat, sweet pomegranate seeds, ripe and bulbous figs, crunchy, grease-drenched tadik, and slabs of salty tachin. Reshaleh stood outside of the kitchen, her wet hair dripping into the pebbles below. She could hear the kettle's soft whimpering and Belghez's shuffling across the floor. The cook, shaped like the full-bottomed eggplants she often used to flavor her dishes, turned around with Reshaleh's entrance. Belghez's smile stretched her face, specifically her nose, so for a moment it resembled a ripe pear crowned with a single prick of sweat.

The kitchen itself was admittedly plain. The counters were sturdy and gray and only one shade lighter than the walls, which bore the usual expressions of old age, most notable were the large smatterings of soot. Therefore, decorations were instead provided by the sights and smells of many different foods sizzling, brewing, or simmering to life in several pots and pans. In the farthest left corner rested a dozen figs, which had been plucked at the peak of ripeness, so that their dark purple flesh smelled sweeter than the sweetest cherry jam. Only inches away from the figs glowed a watermelon nearly three feet long and four feet wide, while that night's dinner, of saffron dusted rice, simmered into completion. Reshaleh liked to think that by standing in the middle of the kitchen every aroma would perfume her hair and flavor her skin.

"Would you like a taste?"

Belghez pinched a fig by its stem before Reshaleh could reply, and placed it into the young girl's palm, where it rested a moment before she drew it into her mouth. Everything but the delicate seeds dissolved. Reshaleh crunched a moment on the seeds, some of which found themselves wedged between her teeth, so that Belghez began to laugh. Her chuckles shook her heavy breasts and rattled her plump thighs before fading like the curls of silver smoke escaping from a nearby pan.

image by laila riazi