Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Minoo Bakery

Shirini Khoshk
Minoo Bakery

Reknowned anthropologist Margaret Mead theorized that a culture's essential character is determined by the rigor and timing of its toilet training practices. (It's true! She even made a highly entertaining documentary about it.)

Personally, I'd argue for judging a culture by its cookies. Besides being more palatable, cookies are at least as revealing. Even simple things, like size, or variety, or shelf-life can lead to new understandings (or at least new questions) about how people within a group relate to one another.

Without getting into the twisted messages lurking in every family-size pack of Double-Stuff Oreos, I'll present a contrasting scenario, the cookie counter at Minoo, "Seattle's Only Persian Bakery". Lined with a huge variety of bite-sized cookies, Minoo's counter speaks of sharing and hospitality, of social gatherings at which there is a little something for everyone and plenty to go around. The bakery itself is an extension of that generous impulse, "...the culmination of [the owner's] lifelong dream of wanting to share the sweet traditions & culture of Iran with the Seattle community."

Minoo sells both shirini tar, or "moist sweets", and shirini khoshk, sweets with a drier texture (interestingly, moist/dry is also one of the major ways in which the Japanese categorize their sweets). Moist sweets are those filled with cream or custard or topped with fruit, many clearly influenced by French pastries. As Minoo's website points out, "Iran’s prominent position along the ancient Silk Road created an opportunity to exchange ideas and cuisine from Europe to Asia."

More traditionally Persian are the dry sweets, a mulitude of small, delicate cookies that Minoo sells by the pound. Berenji are pale, sandy circles made from rice flour, sugar, rose water, and a sprinkling of poppyseeds. Nokhodochi are clovers of chickpea flour shortbread, while keshmeshi have raisins and saffron. The larger kolouche have walnut or fig filling, but kulukhi are thick and plain. Zabaan are oval millefeuilles with coconut topping, and the little walnut gerdoi are earthy, not-too-sweet, and crisp-soft like fresh amaretti. Since the cookies are made from a range of flours, fats, and sweeteners, treat-seekers on restricted diets may be able to find something to suit their needs.

There are at least a dozen more varieties of cookies, as well as breads, cakes, muffins, pastries, rice pudding, saffron ice cream, summer drinks, coffee and soup. And whatever you buy will buy, the nice guy behind the counter will make sure that the most delicate items are nestled safely on the top of the box, kept in perfect condition so that you can share them with friends or guests.

Minoo Bakery
12518 Lake City Way NE
Seattle, WA 98125


Sample more travel-related treats at WanderFood Wednesday...


Beth said...

Excellent and thorough post! The cookies sound amazing.

Heather on her travels said...

mmm I think my tastes tend toward the moist ones as I love anything creamy

Nancie said...

Those cookies look fantastic. Thanks for all of the interesting info, too.This was a great read.