Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/161

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I shall only mention the things on the table which stood opposite to Dr. Muller and myself; from these, some idea may be formed of the other dishes. First came a large pancake, which not only covered the whole table, but hung over it on all sides nearly half a yard deep; it is called tshurek, and serves the Persians both for bread and napkin: then half a sheep, the leg of an ox, two dishes filled with various roasted meats, five dishes of ragouts sprinkled with saffron, two dishes of boiled rice, two of boiled fowls, two of roast fowls, two roasted geese, two dishes of fish, two bowls of sour milk a large quantity of sherbet, and four jars of wine; but with all these there was neither knife, fork, nor spoon. One dish was piled upon another, with such rapidity, that Dr. Muller and myself suddenly found ourselves stationed behind an entrenchment of viands which concealed all view of the court, and only allowed us a peep at our friends opposite through the interstices of the multiplied dishes.

Through one of these openings, I endeavoured to observe what the serdar was doing. With his left hand resting on his dagger, for the Persians never eat with the left, he gravely stretched out his right into a dish of greasy rice, of which he kneaded a small portion with three fingers, and conveyed it with great address into his mouth, seldom soiling either his beard or his mustachios. After repeating this operation several times, he broke a piece off the enormous pancake, and having wiped his fingers with it, swallowed it with an air of placid satisfaction. In the sane manner, he poked into a variety of dishes which he fancied; and at last, seizing a goblet of sherbet, and drinking it off, smiled around upon his wondering guests. Scarcely any of the party had tasted any of the dishes, from the impossibility of getting at them; for not one of them could have been removed from the middle, without demolishing the structure of the whole. The signal for clearing the tables was at last given, and the removal of the dishes occasioned some curious scenes. The dish of ragouts could not be separated from the plate of sour cream, upon which it so conveniently reposed; the butter had entered into close alliance with the pancake; and the fish would not dissolve partnership with the roasted fowls. Force, however, succeeded at last in effecting the desired separation, and the eatables were delivered up to the persons waiting outside. It is the custom in Persia to give the remains of a feast to the attendants, or such persons as may happen to be in the way; often also to the gaping populace. Thus, in a great house, where they daily cook treble the quantity consumed by its inmates, the leavings are consigned to hungry amateurs.

At another entertainment given at Sultania, by the prime minister, to the Russian ambassador and his suite, we are told by