Have you read the Iran deal?  Neither has Trump.  The last sentence of the first paragraph: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.”  There follow 158 pages assuring same.  And so far, everyone but Trump agrees Iran is complying.

Exiting the deal wouldn’t hurt the Iranians — we already unfroze their $150 billion.  They’d get to keep what they got from the deal.

Exiting the deal would mean losing what we got: 24/7 inspections to verify their commitment never to seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.

Why would we do that, ask the allies with whom we, jointly, made this deal with Iran.

Normally when I write about cooking, it’s for my book-n-progress, Cooking Like A Guy™.

I still plan to publish one day, but there always seems to be something more pressing; and, in any event, it’s a bit of a moving target.  Some of my recipes stand the taste of time.  Frozen grapes, for example (though even there I’m no longer so sure about the Equal).  Others need editing. (I’m horrified today, aspiring semi-vegetarian, to go back 18 years to my burger recipe).  None will appear on a fine dining menu or involve knowledge of any foreign language.

But today — in honor of the Iran deal and the hope President Macron and others will help Trump find a face-saving (for him) way to preserve it — I offer something very different — the best (and only) story I have ever read in Bon Appetit, by my friend Andy Baraghani.

In part:

. . . Well, I guess I should tell you now: My real name is Andisheh, not Andy. Every year, on the first day of school, I could see my teacher hesitate when pronouncing my name: “Ahhnnn…” I’d quickly cut the teacher off and say, “Andy is fine.” From middle school into college: “Andy’s fine.” I’m surprised no one ever called me “Andysfine.”

I began to throw away my lunches; I didn’t want anyone to ask what was in them. No more kuku, my mother’s Persian herb frittata; no more kalbas sandwiches: all-beef mortadella wrapped in lavash bread. I would ask my parents not to drop me off close to school in fear that my peers would see their brown skin or hear their accents. When it came to the beard that appeared on my 12-year-old face, I shaved every day and stole a bit of my mother’s foundation to cover it up. I started telling people I had some Italian in me. My last name Bar-a-gha-nee became Ber-e-ghee-nee. I invested in a T-shirt that read ITALIAN STALLION; it would later become infamous among my best friends. Even when it came to my first love in New York, I initially told him I was only half Iranian, which was a partial truth that freed me from being entirely associated with my heritage.

Around this time I interned in the test kitchen at Saveur. The editor in chief at the time, James Oseland, and the executive food editor, Todd Coleman, told me they were going to do a story on Iran. My first thought was: That is just an awful idea. This was 2010. Tensions were high between the U.S. and Iran, where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was president at the time. After all that time spent working my way up in restaurants, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be associated with Iranian food. Ever since I was a gutsy 16-year-old working up the courage to ask the staff at Chez Panisse if I could help out on Friday nights, I’d been dedicated to mastering a particular style of cooking. My most recent stints had been at the fine-dining restaurant Corton and a Scandi pop-up called Frej. Iranian food was what I’d grown up on, but I had worked so hard to get away from it.

James and Todd asked me to help develop the recipes for the Iran story. While I had eaten Iranian food nearly every day growing up, I didn’t actually know the processes and traditions. I was familiar with saffron and barberries, but I couldn’t prepare any of the fragrant stews or elaborate rice dishes that serve as the backbone of the cuisine. So for the next three weeks, I called my mom almost every day and talked to her for hours, translating her “handfuls” and “pinches” to cups and teaspoons, re-creating her recipes in the test kitchen. Eventually, about ten of the final recipes that appeared in the issue were adapted from my mother’s. Saveur published a piece titled “Behind the Iran Story”; it was a letter dedicated to my mother and me, in which Todd thanked us for our contributions and said that the story couldn’t have happened without us. When the issue came out, people both in and out of the food industry embraced it and reached out to me, thanking me for shedding some light on the cuisine. My shame began to recede. . . .

While we’re finding face-saving ways to stay in the Iran deal, it would also be amazingly great if we could rejoin the Paris Accords (now that Nicaragua and Syria have joined, we are the only nation among 197 not to) and join the TransPacific Partnership?



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