Jewels and Yassi
Daisy and I were finally rescued from the four walls threatening to close in on us, when my friend Yassi kindly kidnapped, or more accurately, “woman and dognapped” us to Mashti Malone on Sunday. I must have looked quite a sight getting into her little silver Volkswagen Beatle with crutches, boot, and Daisy sitting dead weight in my arms (she is terrified of cars); but off we went on our little culinary adventure.
I read in the brochure that thirty years ago “Mashti Shirvani, a student at the time, found an abandoned ice cream parlor called Mugsy Malone. He spent all the money he had on the lease and the equipment inside the store. There wasn’t enough money left to change the entire sign, so he only changed half of it. Mugsy Malone became Mashti Malone.” My first hint of what a charming story-teller the owner happens to be.
Saffron Rosewater with Pistachio Ice Cream
Did you know sorbet and ice cream originated in Iran? Rather than very sweet chocolate, vanilla, or bubblegum (all of which they do offer as well) there were flavors I’d never seen before. My eyes lit up as I struggled to fathom Creamy Rosewater, Cherry Faloudeh, Herbal Snow, Lavender, and Orange Blossom. This is when it pays to be the girl with a broken ankle on crutches… Mashti began giving me tasting spoons of everything while my taste buds sparked in delight. Even though I felt like a kid let loose in the proverbial candy store, this was most definitely ice cream made for grown-ups. I eventually settled on the Saffron Rosewater with Pistachio while Yassi had the Faloudeh (rose granita with rice starch noodles running through it) with lemon juice.
Faloudeh with Lemon Juice
While a very well-behaved Daisy sat quietly at our feet (relieved to be out of the house and the car), the combination of exotic flavors and flowing conversation took me on a little mini-vacation to Iran. I’d always imagined it to be all desert, but I could almost see the plush, green abundance of flowers, herbs, fruits, and all kinds of food described as they spoke about their homeland. Easily imagining Mashti’s purple fingers as he spoke of picking blackberries for his father who dyed the silk stands used in Persian rugs, or how the men would cut huge chunks of the snow off the mountains, carefully wrapped to preserve it for making ice cream. Yassi sitting in the snow as a child, turning the machine that made the ice fine enough to pour the raw milk over, and how food always had a purpose beyond sustenance. A reverence for the medicinal benefits of the herbs and spices playing a major role in the development of a recipe.
Enjoying ice cream with my niece last summer
I instinctively picked the right flavor for what ails me! Did you know that rosewater is used in aromatherapy as an antidepressant, saffron is considered a pain reliever and an aphrodisiac, while pistachios contain 35% of essential fatty acids? The combination of all natural, organic ingredients and a reasonable portion size made it feel pretty guilt free too.
It was an intriguing glimpse into a far away land, and an enchanted escape from the frustrations and boredom of being trapped, home alone, with a broken ankle. Thank you very much for the mini vacation dear friend!
PS. Check out the piece I wrote about my friendship with Keith Haring at the Keith Haring Foundation. http://keithharingfoundationarchives.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/julie-ann-rhodes/#more-1112