Adding spice to Lincoln’s dish
Her favorite color is turquoise, but I wouldn’t have guessed it from the decorations.
As I walked in, I saw table cloths of red, orange and gold covered with plastic for easy cleaning. Persian music tickled my ears as I took in the long line of dishes. I’d entered into Daffodil’s, a Persian restaurant owned by Narges Montezar, an immigrant from Iran.
Montezar’s line of dishes create an aroma in the small restaurant like none other. Each time I walk in I feel as if I’m back in the Middle East about to eat my metzmama’s* homemade food. Montezar greeted me with an exuberant, “Hello dear!” and immediately offered me a taste of anything I wanted.
The spread included leek soup, eggplant parmesan, falafel, saffron rice, asiago chicken, kabobs, baklava, and more. Three large chalkboards behind the dishes displayed the “Lunch and Dinner Menu,” “Beverages and Desserts Menu” and a “Weekend Menu.”
While she took care of her other customers asking for catering or coming in to try her mouth-watering food for the first time, my eyes wandered to the screen up in the corner. It displayed beautifully arrayed dishes, made to order, that were as distracting as the steady stream of customers. After sitting down with me she greeted one last customer and then began talking﹘ my focus switching back to her.
She arrived in Missouri 23 years ago with her husband, who was working on his master’s degree in electrical engineering. When they relocated to Lincoln for his doctoral studies, Montezar experienced something that truly made Lincoln home to her. She tells the story herself:
“We’d been driving two cars but we got separated. I saw Super Saver and stopped to find directions. As a woman walked out of the store, I asked her if she could tell me the way. She went back into the store and came out with a map that she bought. She showed me on the map where to go and told me to keep it. I love Lincoln, it is one of the most friendly places I’ve been.”
Montezar didn’t plan on having a restaurant, she only wanted to cater. But the business grew, and she found that she could make people happy by giving them delicious food. So Daffodil’s was born. Though small, she doesn’t want the place to get much larger for fear of losing the family feel.
That family feel is just as important to Montezar as her favorite spice, saffron. As we talked, I thought about how Lincoln is a big dish. An expensive flavor to add to any meal, saffron changes the taste of the dish of Lincoln. As Montezar adds to Lincoln with her restaurant, so can we contribute to the flavor of our town.
Each person is a different spice that adds to the flavor. Alone, we aren’t very flavorful, but mixed together we bring the good out in each other. What spice are you?
*Mestzmama is Armenian for grandmother.
Elena is a senior pursuing a personalized major.