Eid: The Power of Beef Reigns Supreme in Bangladesh

Image of the Power of Beef.

Album artwork for Pigmy Love Circus’ globally acclaimed “The Power of Beef.”

Eid ul-Adha, also referred to as qurbani Eid (qurbani meaning sacrifice), is the grand-daddy of all holidays in Bangladesh and holds a unique power that reigns supreme over every other holiday known to man: the Power of Beef.

Living in a foreign country allows one to learn a lot about differences in cultures, traditions, and even philosophies that aim to explain the meaning of life and allay our uncertainties about the origin of existence. More importantly, one realizes the many parallels between people and cultures of every land, gaining a profound appreciation for the things that bring us together.

These similarities between East and West are perhaps most noticeable during the Islamic Eid holidays. It is a time when people enjoy spending time with family and loved ones, relishing the ideal of peace on earth, exchanging gifts, watching sport on television, spending money recklessly, traveling in painstaking conditions, and…indulging in massive amounts of meat.

Most importantly, Eid ul-Adha is rich in parable to illustrate life lessons in their most basic forms: Before there is reward, there must be sacrifice.

This theme of sacrifice stems from the holiday’s symbolic reverence toward the Koranic (and biblical) story of the prophet Abraham who, when commanded by God to offer up a sacrifice to prove his loyal reverence, was fully prepared to slit the throat of his first-born son Isaac to appease the omnipotent and somewhat meddlesome creator of man in the story.

Thankfully, the originators of the Eid holiday did not call for the blood of first-born children, but rather for goats, sheep, cattle, or any other tasty animal to be substituted upon the altar of sacrifice. However, unlike Abraham’s story, the sacrificial beast does not escape the knife in real life.

While many Islamic countries witness significant reductions in their goat and sheep populations after qurbani Eid, cattle are the animals of choice to sacrifice in Bangladesh. I’m not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with added pleasure of importing (legally or illegally) sacred cows from India to spill their blood and feast upon the reincarnated relatives of their Indian neighbors. I’m probably wrong, though. All right, I am definitely wrong.

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Haji Biryani: A Pilgrimage to Fat and Happiness

HajiBiryani-1

Biryani is an age-old dish believed to have been created in the kitchens of Mughal emperors, who demanded only the finest food throughout their empire be gathered and combined into a single dish fit for the Almighty himself. Consisting of fine-grain rice, chopped beef, chicken or goat, and cooked with refined butter and a dash of aromatic spices, the beauty of biryani lies in its simplicity–its greasy, delicious, rib-sticking simplicity.

Tucked away on a narrow, crowded byway in Old Dhaka lies a hidden gem of culinary delight called Haji Biryani. Haji Biryani is perhaps the most famous of all biryani houses in all of Dhaka and sat atop the list of my personal to-do list upon arriving to Bangladesh back in April. After many weeks of procrastination, I finally acted on visions of manifest destiny and set out on my own personal hajj to partake in the heralded mutton biryani served up by the city’s oldest such restaurant.

True to its name, traveling to Haji Biryani requires one to depart on a harrowing journey not unlike the annual Muslim hajj to the sacred center of the Islamic world in Mecca. Getting to the restaurant itself will test your faith, mettle, and force you to overcome physical torment of hunger, claustrophobic crowds and hellacious traffic jams. Could I possibly survive the gauntlet standing between me and the coveted biryani without melting down?

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Wizards with Scissors

Roadside barbershop in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo by Cookiesound.com.

Roadside barbershop in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo by Cookiesound.com.

Barbershops scare me. This is quite obvious if you look at photos of me over the past decade, or even more so if you are familiar with my grooming habits, which are practically non-existent. I have always opted for the path of the Jeff Lebowskis, Grizzly Adams, and Cousin Its of the world, who prefer to view root canals as preferable to the cutting of hair — be it on one’s head, face, armpits, or other hirsute areas on the human male body where evolution has been slow to fully eradicate.

I usually give into my senses and eventually let somebody hack away at my ever-greying locks. This is done almost entirely to save my better half the embarrassment of being wed to a modern day neanderthal. But for me, finding a satisfactory haircut equates to witnessing a glistening unicorn prance down Lollipop Lane while dispensing fresh pints of ice cold IPA from its magical horn. Not impossible, but not all too common either.

More common than a good haircut.

More common than a good haircut.

My distrust in hair cutteries goes back as far as I can remember. Growing up, it was always good ol’ Mom wielding the shears and clippers to keep her boys’ hair at acceptable length. When she wasn’t working her magic behind the chair, it was either myself or my brothers laying waste to my head in the form of closely shaved sides coupled with a jheri curl mullet in the back. This was fine as an awkward teenager, but as an overweight married man and father of one, it has become too difficult to pull off this approach. I began to pay so-called professionals to butcher my hairdo time and time again, ruing the laws of nature that inexplicably allow one’s hair to grow throughout their lifetime.

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An Ode to 2013

Image of New Year 2013 banner

You probably haven’t noticed, but this blog has been idle for the past several months due to a severe bout of prolonged laziness coupled with the birth of my first-born child. Part of me also found the prospect of continuing this blog troublesome in that it might lump me in with that horrid psycho-babble book released last year under a similar name.

Rather than sue the author of 50 Shades of Grey like any patriotic American should do, I have vowed to carry out my journey through the blogosphere in a more cynical and pointless fashion than ever before. Accordingly, I will begin this trek in the most clichéd form of January article: the New Year Forecast.

Below, I present to you a handful of things we can eagerly anticipate in the year 2013.

Too extreme! The latest and greatest fitness fads

Each new year, we renew our broken promises to ourselves to get back into shape. If you are like me, you probably know at least half a dozen friends, co-workers, and/or family members who have enrolled themselves in Crossfit—the newest and most extreme fitness fad American culture has concocted to date. Who knows, you might even be a part of this new species of gym commando yourself. While I can appreciate the philosophy of Neanderthalism and its tenets of using physical supremacy to bludgeon fellow human beings for the right to eat the last scrap of wooly mammoth steak, the mainstreaming of this ideology in the form of exercise has triggered a level of disdain that I typically reserve for yoga.

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Food Truck Fetish Fridays: A Barbarian Visits Tapas Truck

Image of Food Truck Fetish Fridays food truck

Let me begin this Food Truck Fetish Friday post by saying that tapas are not my cup of tea. While I have long admired the nation of Spain for its collective embrace of daily siesta nap culture as necessity, folklore of El Cid and Don Quixote, and a storied tradition of running with—and being gored by—enormous angry bulls, I have never cared for their saucer-sized contribution to the scene of international cuisine.

Or at least that is the notion I have always firmly ingrained in my mind because I rarely indulge in tapas. Like, ever. You see, my perception of this style of dining gravitates toward the quintessential American school of thought: it’s freakin’ lame, much as it is perceived in Birmingham, Kansas City, Memphis, or anywhere that prides themselves on the value of sizable portions, which, judging by our restaurants and waistlines is…THE ENTIRE U.S.A.!

I also have innate biological restraints to tapas that are hardwired deep into my inner circuitry. Being a self-conscious barbaric male precludes me from seeking out this form of nutrition when I need to satisfy my appetite. Typically, these dishes are served alongside glass pitchers of fruit-infused, pinkish sangria to groups of 24 year-old female interns on Capitol Hill. Apparently, these young ladies enjoy paying $15 for each paltry appetizer plate in a fleeting attempt to relive their trials and tribulations as study-abroad students in Barcelona.

Me? I know where I belong and that is usually sitting in a dark, dank dive bar with a lukewarm beer in one hand, an overstuffed roast beef po’ boy sandwich in the other, and my mind flip-flopping back and forth as I decide whether it is advisable to carry my foodstuffs with me when I get up to use the bathroom.

Well, wouldn’t you know—my next stop on the free food truck lunch tour was…the Tapas Truck.

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Patriotism Now 50% Off, Thanks to Online Coupons

Image of Groupon for Half Off Patriotism for July 4th

Patriotic Online Deals Also Offer Rare Glimpse into National Psyche

Most of the time, you don’t have to look very far or think too much about what it means to be American. Lest we forget, we are constantly reminded of our duties as a citizen to uphold the lofty values that our forefathers intended to bequeath upon our great land.

Like most mornings, I open my email and begin deleting junk from a list of usual suspects: Living Social, Groupon, Capitol Deal, Amazon Local Deal, the landlord, debt collectors, Eversave, and ESPN. However, this time, I found the diamond in the rough awaiting me in  my inbox:

“Subject: Half Off Patriotism – Fourth of July Deals ‏”

Thanks to the advent of modern technology, I was given a key, nay a revelation, to enjoy my god-given rights as an American to the maximum extent possible by virtue of…Patriotic Online Deals for the Fourth of July!

With Independence Day just around the corner, many of us have already concocted detailed strategies of how we will honor our great nation. For many, this usually involves a simple equation consisting of food, family, friends, fireworks, and copious alcohol consumption. My current plans still adhere to this time-honored tradition, but after receiving the opportunity to purchase a bevy of limited-time offers, my Fourth of July machinations have bloomed into a star-spangled furor, sure to shatter my own personal records of patriotism.

How, you ask? Behold, the keys to freedom enshrined in the Articles of Online Coupon Patriotism:

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Food Truck Fetish Friday: Tasty Kabob

Image of food truck fetish friday tasty kabob

Kebabs, or kabobs, depending on your spelling preference, are a form of food that appeals to the barbarian within all of us. The mere thought of sharp metal and wooden skewers piercing through tender hunks of meat as it sizzles over roaring flames conjure images of Turkish warriors, Arabian knights, and even Greek philosophers gathered around ancient pyres under starry desert skies, awaiting a higher form of sustenance earned only through the shedding of blood or arduous debate over human existence (in the case of the philosophers).

This primal mojo, coupled with my boundless adoration of eating meat on a stick, is precisely what makes kebabs one of my all-time favorite food items. Kebabs, in fact, approach perfection. Easy to handle, you can eat kebabs at carnivals, you can eat kebabs at weddings–both during ceremonies and receptions; you can eat kebabs on your couch, and you can eat kebabs to suppress road rage while suffering through rush hour traffic. On a boat, in a plane, or on the toilet — the kebab allows the eater to fill their stomach in succulent pleasure without the need for elitist plates, forks, knives, or napkins. Simply place the meat in your mouth and chew, swallow, and toss the empty skewer on the ground, and return your focus to the important business of thinking about what to eat next while sitting in front of your TV.

For these reasons, I was particularly excited about redeeming my free lunch coupon for the Tasty Kabob food truck in Washington, D.C.

Boy, did I ever set myself up for disappointment of tragic proportions.

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