how does a conversation begin?
sometimes, in fits in starts, in fidgeting pauses and struggles for topics, in sentences started simultaneously, devolving into “you go first, “no, you,” followed by hesitant, bashful laughter. and other times, it’s barely a conversation at all, but one person engaged in a soliloquy of run-on sentences punctuated by nods and murmured assertions of those who (pretend to) listen. but the best kind of conversations are the kind that start from the simplest topic and somehow morph into an hour of dialogue, perhaps not full of substance in the scholarly sense, but important nonetheless because we gain a little more understanding of our conversation partner.
tonight, the conversation started with the simple question, “how do you pronounce ‘turmeric?'” tu-mer-ic? ter-meric? we were both wrong. (it’s tu-meric.) and somehow from turmeric and spices, we just started to talk about baking cakes, about sneaking midnight snacks, and about how tom brady led the patriots to the craziest superbowl win ever (I don’t even care about football and I was screaming).
and now I’m basking in the afterglow, partially from the delicious chicken and the guiltiest, most pleasurable slice of cake ever. but we need more than food to warm and feed us. we need the people with whom we share our meals, with whom we have those sputtering first encounters, those sometimes one-sided rants, those wonderful conversations as we linger around the table long after the food has become cold.
sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
3/4 cup water
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 juicy lime, halved
sumac, for garnish (I used cayenne)
parsley, roughly chopped, for garnish (optional)
louisa shafia. the new persian kitchen. new york: ten speed press, 2013.
2 heat large skillet over medium-high heat. brown chicken well on both sides (~7 minutes/side). pour water into pan (it will splatter!), then add garlic, stirring it into water. bring water to a boil, then turn heat to low and cover. braise chicken for 25 minutes, until inside is opaque. transfer chicken to warmed serving platter, turn up heat to high, and reduce cooking liquid for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until garlic has started to brown and liquid has slightly thickened. pour sauce over chicken.
3 sprinkle chicken with sumac (or cayenne), squeeze a little lime juice on top, garnish with lime halves and parsley, and serve.