Monday, February 18, 2008

Persian Rice with Pistachios and Dill (Page 258)

  • Saturday, February 16, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen:Matty's Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: A-

I don't have so many rice recipes left to make from The Book, but there are a couple recipes for Persian rice that I hadn't made yet. This is one of them. This rice was a revelation. I am shamefully unfamiliar with Iranian food, so not only had I never prepared rice in this way, but I had never even eaten rice prepared in this way. The rice is cooked so that there is a thick, crunchy, golden crust (the tah-dig) on the bottom, which is then served atop the rest of the rice. All the rice was fairly tasty, but the tah-dig was absolutely amazing. It had a great buttery, nutty flavor to it, and a fantastic crunchy texture. I have only a couple minor critiques of this recipe. One, the pistachios got a bit soggy when cooked with the rice. It would had been better had the pistachios been toasted separately and then mixed into the rice at the end. Secondly, the dill contributed a nice flavor to the dish, but turned a very unappealing brown color when it was cooked, which made the dish much less visually appealing than it could have been. All that said, this rice was delicious, and I will definitely be using this method of preparation again in the future.

Here is the recipe.

In general I am not the kind of person who strikes up conversations with strangers. I like talking to strangers just fine, but I am not usually outgoing in that way. The one exception to this rule is on airplanes. Without exception I try to have a conversation with the person next to me. I don't particularly like to fly. I am better about it now than I used to be, but it's still no fun for me. I get nervous, and for whatever reason, knowing the person next to me in some small way makes me feel better about it. So I try to talk to him or her. The surprising thing is what a huge percentage of people are receptive to this. Only once every dozen flights or so does someone clearly not want to talk to me. Usually people will talk for a bit, and then read their book or listen to music for most of the flight. Occasionally you meet someone who is genuinely interested in having a conversation. Today, flying home from Boston, I spent two and a half hours talking to the woman next to me: a fifth grade teacher from Frankfort, Indiana. It was fun. We talked a lot about elementary education, and some of the problems with college-level math education. It was very calming. Even when the pilot announced that the flight attendant should be seated due to turbulence, I was calm!

Now I am home for a few days before I head off on my next trip. Ah, home...


Magdalen said...

About elementary school education, maths, and girls: Did you and your airplane companion discuss how to encourage girls to approach mathematics (well, at that age -- arithmatic) with confidence and even (gasp!) enjoyment?

My young cousin (7+) is visiting for a long weekend. We (she and I) were looking at her math workbook last night. The problem was simple (you buy something that costs $67 with $100; how much change do you get back?) but I gather The New Math (which was New when I was Nina's age -- about 45 years ago!) doesn't approach these problems the same way. Which is okay, but poor Nina just had that deer/headlights look.

This bothered me -- I like math, and did as a student. And Nina's a bright kid -- she was great a finding and fitting pieces into the not-easy jigsaw we'd all been working on -- not a lazy mind at all. I can't help wondering how educators approach a girl like her when it comes to math.

At the other end -- more your end, really -- I had a conversation with another cousin Dusa McDuff (she and her husband, Jack Milner, are mathematicians at SUNY Stony Brook) about why women aren't proportionally represented in her/your profession.

Two questions, then: is there unconscious gender-bias in school, such that girls are subtly told they won't like, and therefore won't do well at, maths? and have you seen gender equality both as a student and now that you are the educator?

Mike Hill said...

I'm really impressed, Teena, with the comments you've been getting on your `blog. Magdalen, you're comments especially are quite interesting to read. I'm also curious to know the answers to your questions!

Oh, and I love this kind of rice.

Ok, enough substance. Now some Mike style fluff! I don't normally talk to people on airplanes, but, since I am a crazy freak magnet, they always talk to me. One time, I was flying to Oslo, Norway, and this girl next to me talked my ear off. It was so fun!

Of course, talking to the people next to me might help mitigate the awkward situations that arise from my falling asleep on planes. More than once, I have awakened pressed against the person next to me, thinking that I was sleeping against the bulkhead. Once I even was so convinced of this that I pressed up off the person with my hand. Man, that was embarrassing! Luckily, the people are always really nice about it (except for the aforementioned girl who kept awakening me by stuffing my mouth with gummy coke bottles which, inexplicably, taste like soda).

Teena said...

Magdalen: That's crazy that Dusa McDuff and Jack Milnor are your cousins! I don't know either of them personally, but if you had asked me to name successful women in math Dusa McDuff would have been one of the first few people I would have mentioned. And Milnor, of course, is incredibly famous in mathematics!

Mike: That crazy girl sitting next to you on the way to Oslo was ME! Remember how we played the trivia game and kept trying to beat that guy a few rows behind us... ah, good times!