Rugag bread in the making

About three decades ago, I spent ten days in a small town in the Fars province, called Laar.  I was visiting my eldest sister, who was living there temporarily to teach English to high school students.  The tall, talkative old landlady who had rented one room in her big house to my sister was called Madar-e Fazlollah.

She made me an unforgettably unique and delicious breakfast from an egg and some bread she baked on a small taveh–a flat, sometimes slightly curved, round iron griddle.  By the time my sister left for work each morning, Madar-e Fazlollah had already made her quick and sloppy run of daily sweeping around the house.  She then settled on a short stool in front of a stand-alone oil burner, topped by her taveh, in the middle of her large, walled yard under a four-story-tall palm tree.

She placed a small round of dough in the middle of the hot taveh and swiftly flattened it with her bare fingers.  She then broke an egg onto the baking bread.  A few seconds later she tucked the two sides of the bread tightly together, turned the wrap over for a few more seconds, and removed it from the taveh.  It took only a couple of minutes (and 85 years of experience) to produce the delicious wrap, with the thin bread and scrambled egg artfully blended together.

Madar-e Fazlollah called the dish ni-na-noo. I never ate that food in Iran again, nor did I ever hear its name. Amazingly, however, I came across it once again just recently while I was visiting “Global Village” in Dubai, where local women were baking and selling “Rugag bread’ as they call it on the spot.  As soon as I recognized the dish, I asked women’s permission to film the process and felt so emotional just standing in the crowd, watching them and tasting a very remote memory, while actually being accompanied by a dear friend of my youth.

(Partly, Excerpted from my book, A sip, a bit a mouthful)



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