Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nicholas’s Travels

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." --St. Augustine

Hey everyone. My name is Nicholas Pike. I couldn’t be more excited to be working with the Zaffron team. The concept is really coming together, and we should be open very soon! I wanted to write a quick post to introduce myself and tell you guys a bit about my recent trip to the Middle East.

Over the holidays, I was able to spend some time in the Middle East to further explore the influences and intricacies of the regional cuisine. While I consider myself an adventurous eater and have eaten at more middle eastern restaurants in the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa than I can count, I have never been to the source. A couple of weeks before the opening of Zaffron seemed like the perfect time to check it out. There were certainly some highlights, including i) seeing a shwarma bigger than the man standing next to it, ii) the tremendous variety of hummus concocted by various chefs in Turkey, Jordan, Israel, and Syria and iii) breads of every shape and size you can imagine. For a big fan of this cuisine, seeing the varieties and quality of this food in its natural habitat was spectacular.

The biggest benefit though was seeing how similar the food was across national, cultural, and ethnic borders. The foods eaten by the bedoiun near the Saudi border were the same as those eaten by the cosmopolitan residents of Amman, the Christian and Arab communities in Damascus, Palestinians in Ramallah, pilgrims in Bethlehem, and recent immigrants to the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem. Despite the stark and ongoing challenges faced in this part of the world, in one of the most basic of human actions (eating), disparate peoples were remarkably similar.

While I have no illusions about the challenges facing the Middle East or the role that Zaffron can play in promoting peace in this part of the world, Zaffron’s motto of “changing the world one kabob at a time” made me think that human similarities so often outweigh our differences. The influences that we have drawn on to create the Zaffron menu have stood the test of time in the Middle East, and the food is enjoyed by all (across class, gender, ethnic, and religious lines). While many other regions have already seen the benefits and appeal of Middle Eastern food, it is my great hope that Zaffron helps bring this enjoyment to the United States.

Our menu draws on all of the influences that I experienced in the Middle East, but, in my opinion, Zaffron’s food is fresher and higher quality. You’ll see for yourselves soon. I can’t wait for you to give our menu a try!


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