Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lamb and Lecture

I had dinner with Giggles tonight at Azeen's Afghani Restaurant. The conversation and the food were both so enjoyable!

Giggles had some Afghan tea with cardamom that smelled lovely.

We shared two appetizers and an entree. The mantu ($6.50) were steamed dumplings filled with lamb and onion and smothered with various vegetables. Great flavor. These were like the mandoo (Korean dumplings) of the Middle East!

Giggles and I fell in love with the bulanee-e-katchulu ($5.50). How could we not? The golden fried turnovers stuffed with lamb and potatoes won our hearts with the first crunchy bite. They were especially good with the accompanying cool, creamy, luscious yogurt dip.

I thought our entree, quabili pallaw ($15.90), was amazing. Tender pieces of marinated lamb lay nestled under a heaping mound of slightly sweet pallaw (seasoned brown rice), thin carrot strips, and raisins.

Seriously delicious. So much so that I was very tempted to dig into the leftovers when I got home, since Mr. Monkey was too full to nosh.

Hmm. Maybe it's time for a midnight snack.

I was very impressed by Azeen's, which is unassuming and hidden on a side street in Old Town Pasadena. The service was friendly and the atmosphere pleasant. It's the perfect little neighborhood restaurant. I would love to go back to sample more dishes, including dessert. We had our eyes on the gelabee (fried pastry dipped in sugar syrup), but we had to move on to Part Two of the night. Next time!

Carrying the box of extra quabili pallaw (there was no way I was letting that awesome dish go to waste), we entered the lecture hall a little late. The only two available seats together were in the very front row, so we trudged on up. They turned out to be the best seats in the room, as the lecturer was a bit soft-spoken due to recent troubles with his throat.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is a Kenyan novelist and theorist of post-colonial literature. He read a number of excerpts from his latest book, Wizard of the Crow, as well as opined on the lopsided "development" of modern-day countries and answered questions from the audience. I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy his book any time soon, but I was rather entertained by his interactive storytelling.

Giggles asked the best question of the night, which basically tied together everything that had been discussed during the lecture. (I love my intellectual friend!) I know, if I try to paraphrase, I will totally butcher it, but Ngũgĩ's answer was beautiful and inspiring.

I can't do his eloquence justice, but Ngũgĩ explained that our bodies need food. We eat in order to live. Food feeds our bodies. Just like our bodies, our imaginations need to be fed, too. And what is the food for our imaginations? Art, music, literature, and the like. Culture, if you will. Learning about different cultures is essential to understanding each other. Understanding and dialogue will promote peace among different people. All of this will ultimately lead to more equal development of countries across all classes.

(He is a Fanonist Marxist, after all.)

Don't let my crappy summary fool you. It was quite the wonderfully hopeful message.

Uplifted, we walked back to Giggles' place with smiles on our faces.


  1. your night appeals to my tummy/soul/mind. yum.

  2. what a great evening. sounds like a total mood booster --- especially great seeing as how it happened midweek!

  3. I love that you eat so many different kinds of food. Those lamb turnovers looked super yummy.

  4. Oooh, that place is in Old Town Pasadena? I definitely want to go there sometime. I love that you are feeding your body with creativity in both the food and intellect areas of life.

  5. Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the Smartphone, I hope you enjoy. The address is http://smartphone-brasil.blogspot.com. A hug.

  6. Monkey! This sounds like the perfect place to take mom out for dinner.

    She loves old town Pasadena so thanks for the idea!

    What an awesome evening! So diverse!

  7. I like intellectual things. I like food. I like your blog. kthnxbai


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