It is 1am and I am just getting ready for bed after hosting a dinner party for fourteen people. What a job! Last night I said I would like to cook dinner for the family. After breakfast, I made a quick plan about what I was going to cook, then heading into the city on my bike. Firstly, I played tourist, exploring Rakhatshor-Khane (a beautifully public constructed laundry room built in the 1926) before heading over to the bazaar. Thus, at 12.30pm, my dinner preparations began. At the bazaar I bought enough vegetables to completely fill a large pannier, along with some chicken breasts. Doing so used up all of the money I was carrying except for about AU$0.30, so I had to return home. I dumped the food, grabbed more cash and then headed out again. My first stop was a bike shop where I bought a gel seat cover. Then I visited an awesome food joint that made a pretty amazing gourmet burger and fries. I accidently dropped the burger I was initially served, but was served a new one, despite my protests that I really didn’t mind that fact that some of the first one had hit the floor. I then began my hunt for the remaining ingredients I needed. I had to visit four shops and engage in some inventive translating exercises before I was able to gather everything. I arrived home again at 3pm. By this time Akbar and Sahar were home, along with Mohammad and Anya. I was treated to a delicious ‘lunch’, just managing to squeeze in what translates to “water-meat” on top of my earlier big meal. I have already forgotten the Persian name of the meal but it is special to Zanjan.

Straight after eating I began preparing dinner, and I didn’t really stop working until now. My first job was to make the base for the Banoffee pie that would form dessert. Then I made the caramel. When this was completed, I was informed that the family had invited five guests to join us for dinner, comprising four adults and one kid. Altogether, 14 people. I have never cooked for so many people. Besides the challenge of numbers, I was also challenged by the fact I was working in a foreign kitchen. And also by the fact that I wasn’t able to find all the ingredients for a specific recipe I had in mind, so I was basically just making a meal up. I was also stubborn enough to refuse any help. I started making the pie at 3.30pm, which means from then on I spent 9.5 hours working on hosting everything. Once I got the base with caramel in the fridge, I set about preparing two massive bowls full of salad. I was nearly done when I realised I better get the spuds on the boil for the mashed potato that would form the base of the main meal. Once these were on the stove, I was able to complete the salad dishes. I then turned my attention to the chicken. I wasn’t able to find boneless chicken breasts, so the first thing I had to do was debone the big pieces of chicken I bought. While cooking boneless chicken pieces in one pan, I cooked the meaty carcasses in another, wanting to start a broth for a sauce. I cut up some zucchinis and eggplants and cherry tomatoes and fried these in yet another pot. Things got a bit sketchy when I attempted to flavour the sauce. For this I relied on a variety of spices and random ingredients I could find in the kitchen. I accidentally used too much vinegar so spent a lot of time trying to rebalance the flavours.

I had been aiming for 9pm (when the family normally eats) and I had everything ready at 9.02pm. The trouble was that the guests were running late. Everything sat on the stove getting cool while we waited for them to arrive. Once two of them arrived, I rushed to get everything hot again, before serving out 12 dishes. The other two people came even later and ate separately. The guests were family – grandmother, aunty, uncle and cousins of Alirezar, Sahar and Narges (making four generations under the roof). Everything looked quite good served up, but I was very self-conscious about how it tasted. I realise that the host of a dinner party can never really enjoy the meal because they just think it’s bad and think that people are ‘just being nice’ when they say it is good. This is how it was for me tonight. Still, the plates were cleaned. The next challenge was getting the cream I’d found whipped. The home’s electric beater wasn’t working, so I had to try and whip it by hand. While the uncle who turned up later on his own caught up with his meal, I worked to beat the cream. I needed to call on help from others when my arm got tired. It probably took about 40 minutes and the work of many hands to get the cream slightly thick. I folded in bananas and finished the pie. We devoured it instantly. Again, I was paranoid people didn’t really like it, but it tasted the way it should. By this time it was after midnight. Definitely ready for bed right now.

Dinner party

Accommodation Home of lovely family
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 23,975km