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8 August 2011 / leggypeggy

Be a good girl and clean your plate

Poor John's squid dish.

Azerbaijan is not a country for dieters.

Last night Poor John and I went out in Baku to get an authentic Azeri meal. We didn’t have to go far before we came upon the Baki Restaurant. It looked a homely, family place, with gold and white curtains in the window and plenty of timber on the exterior.

After checking the lengthy menu—written in Azeri, Russian and English—we decided to stay. Poor John ordered an interesting sounding fish dish but our waiter, Rami, who had limited English, said he’d check with the chef. Nope, no fish. Too hot for fish. ‘It’s the weather,’ he said apologetically. We were both a bit puzzled by this announcement, but Poor John persevered on the seafood front. How about the squid with sour cream sauce (xamada kalmar)? Another trip to the kitchen and, yes, squid was okay.

Then I ordered the village chicken on an iron dish (sac toyuq). You’d have thought I offered him $100. His thumb went up. ‘Yes madam, this is a very good choice’, he said as he threw Poor John a friendly sneer to let him know his choice wasn’t anywhere near as good as mine. Poor John wavered—to go with the squid or? He stood his ground.

Village chicken up close.

How about salad or potatoes? We ordered a tomato and cucumber salad, but Rami said we needed two. Okay, we’ll have two.

Now what about drinks? ‘Water?’ Rami asked, nodding at both of us. Poor John ordered water with gas (the way you describe sparkling mineral water) and I ordered a beer. I thought Rami would faint. The man orders water and the woman orders beer! He was thrilled and gobsmacked. I can hear him telling his wife—’honey, you won’t believe what happened in the restaurant’.

Our drinks and salad arrived, followed by John’s squid—just a small plate of it. My dish was to be along in five minutes. And then it to appeared. Rami was beaming. It was a banquet. It was spread out on a wok-like iron dish perched over a platter and with a small dish of hot coals underneath to keep the chicken warm.

Except for the elevated presentation, my village chicken was the same dish we ordered a few nights earlier in Sheki. The waiter that night warned us the dish—which was inexplicably called ‘noodles’ on that menu—was for many people, not just one! But how could I have suspected? The dish in Sheki cost 14 manats while the one in Baku, which was only slightly smaller, cost only 4 manat (or about US$5).

Thankfully this platter of Azeri bounty was indeed delicious, but I could eat my way through only half of it. Poor John was recruited to deal with the rest. Later, as Rami cleared away the serving dishes, he took the last piece of lavash bread and dropped it on my plate, saying ‘You finish it madam, it’s yours.’

That’s the first time a waiter ever told me to clean my plate.


Leave a Comment
  1. Sy S. / Aug 8 2011 7:59 am

    Ha, ha, ha… still laughing…. “That’s the first time a waiter ever told me to clean my plate”….. LOL LOL LOL

    Sy S.


  2. Gary Walker / Aug 8 2011 1:49 pm

    It’s funny that you mention that your waiter made you finish your plate.

    True story…

    My dearly departed Tom (RIP) always kept one bite of food left on his plate. No matter how delicious his meal was… he ALWAYS left a tiny bit on his plate untouched. Even if it was just a miniscule taste.

    He was not a religious man, but, he always left a bite because his mother’s religion thought that gluttony was the worse of the seven sins. That was just how he was raised and he carried on the tradition for his entire life.

    He was often irritated with me when I told him to stop eating so I could finish his plate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. leggypeggy / Aug 8 2011 3:12 pm

    Let’s agree that this post is in honour of Tom.
    Another story about plate cleaning. I worked at an advertising agency for many years. It was called Communication Partners or Compars for short. No one would ever finish the last morsel on a platter at a work function and we ended up calling that bit a food a Compars.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Phyllis Gaetz / Sep 14 2016 4:14 am

    Such wit. Still laughing. Just made a meatloaf this weekend. Love the idea of individual “fingers” as I like cold meatloaf sandwiches and they would be perfect as a pita wrap with mustard. Do you think it was “too hot” to go fishing versus too hot to cook? Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 14 2016 8:30 am

      Maybe it was too hot for the fish to want to come out of the water. 🙂


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