With revolt sweeping across the Middle East and Northern Africa, I have been singing the praise of revolution as of late, and daydreaming of the plausibility that we next look east, borrow upon this rhetoric for our own domestic purpose and coalesce. Is there not a general discontent over the rising prices, corruption, and nepotism that plague our fair land? Or is it just me craving an authentic Middle Eastern meal after spending the dark month of Þorri eating putrefied food? Whether it happens in the streets or in our kitchens, I am a fan of social change, even if it is merely a gastronomical one.
Variety is the spice of life. When I was told that Eldhrímnir was actually a Persian restaurant, I was delightfully surprised. In Norse mythology, Eldhrímnir is a magical cauldron used to prepare food for heroic warriors. I assumed from the name and the cauldron on the signage that this was just another hopeless soup kitchen serving upscale lunchtime dishwater to the remaining warriors of the Iceland’s financial district. I was so distant from the truth. To find a restaurant without brown sauce in their repertoire is happiness; to discover an authentic Persian restaurant in Iceland is bliss. Are you reading this Útlendingastofnun? Diversity is a beautiful thing.
Located in the heart of Borgartún, an area not particularly known for its charm, my date and I opted to dine in. That, and having a baby last week also weighed in on our decision to get carry out. A soft melody from a Persian flute, dim candlelight, and familiar aromas of cinnamon and saffron greeted me as I entered the warm interior. I took my time announcing my arrival to admire the tactful decor of sculpture and painting, as well as sigh over experiencing this cuisine out of take away containers in a dining room-cumnursery. If only for a moment, I wanted to bask in the tranquillity here. The dining room has a commanding view of Höfði, the harbour, and Mt. Esja while an upstairs lounge seems ideal for an after dinner aly n and tea.
With everything attentively packed, I rushed home.
We begin with a Persian barley soup, toasted flatbread, and a yoghurt salad close in taste and texture to an Indian raita. The soup is simple and consistent: a thick blend of fresh vegetables and barley with subtle hints of coriander. The delight in eating this is how the textures pass through the mouth in an orderly fashion, from the first bit of cream that coats the back of the throat, to the bite of tender barley and al dente vegetables, finishing with the last bits of barley husk that scrape away the palette preparing the mouth for the next spoonful. This could easily turn into a meal, we move on to the boxes containing the main courses.
My date seems to have ordered a most impressive kebab, comparable in size to anatomy found in a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph. My container too bulges like a codpiece bound by multiple rubber bands. I could only imagine the presentation had we dined at the restaurant. I unleash the restraints to discover half of a chicken wading in a pomegranate sauce. Wow. Chicken is usually the last thing I would order at a restaurant, but when given the choice of chicken or chicken, I will consume whatever Andhrímnir prepares in his magical cauldron. The Æsir never became bored with boar!
If consuming this meal in one sitting is the litmus test of godliness or manhood, then I obviously fail. The pomegranate sauce compliments the succulence of the bird to perfection. The tart marinade alone has me licking my lips, still. The guilty pleasure of eating this as take away is that I can savagely eat this bird by bare hand without a queer eye, plus there was no need to leave the house all weekend with so much left over. For three days we feasted, laughing at the snow while hand feeding each other fresh Persian dates in bed.
Cheers to revolutions and pluralistic futures. We eagerly await dining in your halls at our first opportune.
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