Jul 12, 2007

A Cab Ride with Dolmas

So this post has nothing to do with China... it has to do with my favorite cab driver, Jihad.

Jacob and I live really close to the DFW airport, so when we are going on long trips, it is cheaper to take a cab to the airport than to pay for parking. I met Jihad several months ago when the cab company sent him to pick me up, and we hit it off. (I love talking to cab drivers... they have interesting lives.) He immigrated from Iraq in 1981 (he is Kurdish), and his wife is from Palestine. They are Muslim, and in the 5 minute drive from my house to the airport, we had a fascinating discussion about faith, life, and the tensions in our world. I guess he enjoyed our conversation, too, because after that first trip, he gave me his card and asked that I call him in the future if I ever needed a cab ride.

So, since then, any time I fly up to Minneapolis (which lately has been about 1 time a month), I call him for a ride. This past Monday, Jacob and I were flying together on an 8 o'clock flight. Jihad dropped us off at the airport, and Jacob and I found out that our flight was cancelled. They rebooked us on an afternoon flight, so we decided to go home until it was time to leave since we had several hours. We called Jihad and he came to pick us up and take us home. On the way home, we starting talking about our love for all Mediterranean food... yum! It is our favorite!! Hummus, and Baba Ganoush, and Kabobs, and Tabouli, and Feta, and Greek Olives... mmmmmm... I could go on and on.

All except dolmas... I'd never had a dolma I liked. Nor had Jacob. In fact, it is one food that inevitably causes a gag reflex in Jacob. For those who don't know what dolmas are, they are grape leaves stuffed with a rice and meat mixture (pictured above). So, we told our cab driver that it was the only part of Mediterranean cuisine that we hadn't thoroughly enjoyed. He got so excited, for -- as fate would have it -- his wife was making dolmas that very morning. He say this as a divine opportunity to share the beauty of dolmas; we starting getting a little nervous. We'd already agreed that he would pick us up 5 hours later to take us back to the airport, and he decided that he would bring us homemade dolmas when he came to pick us up. Jacob and I looked at each other with a worried glance; we could tell how excited he was to share his wife's cooking, and we knew that it would hurt his feelings if we declined, so we agreed.

All morning long, Jacob would occasionally mutter "oh no" under his breath in anticipation for what he was sure would be a painful eating experience. We knew better than to expect 1 dolma each; we knew it would be a plateful, and we knew we would need to eat them all so as to avoid hurting any feelings. The closer we got to 11:30, the more nervous we became. I poured big glasses of water to have them ready and waiting. Sure enough, at 11:30 on the dot, Jihad arrived at our apartment door with a carton full of dolmas. He also brought us forks, napkins, and a bottle of cold water, for his wife was concerned that she had made them too spicy for us (since she didn't know she was cooking for others when she made them). We all settled around our kitchen table, and Jacob and I dove in.

They were PHENOMENAL! In fact, several days later, I'm still craving them. Jacob agreed. It was some of the best food we've ever had. Just goes to show, sometimes it is worth taking a risk. Jihad was so thrilled that as we drove to the airport, he made plans to bring us tabouli the next time he picked us up.

I love the people God puts in our path... Life is always an adventure. Let me tell you, I never could have guessed that I would have been sitting at my kitchen table with my cab driver eating homemade dolmas. But I'm glad I did! Today I'm going to eat Somalian food with some refugees that I've been teaching a basic computer skills class to... I'll let you know how that goes when the meal is finished.


Chris & Jane said...

Mmm, I love dolmas...wish I'd met Jihad. Tell him to mail some to ABQ! Miss ya'll! Jane

chicknboy said...

I've never tried a dolma...but I think your story is hilarious! :) Wish I could be there when he brings you tabouli -LOVE that stuff!

The Byrd Family said...

I've never eaten any of that stuff but hey I love anyone who will bring me food!

Sally said...

Jihad sounds like a much better cab driver than the one we rode with in Cleveland, OH. Remember? I'll never forget it as long as I live.


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