THE BALBOA POOL AND KUFTEH TABRIZI

What, pray tell, does a public pool and a giant meatball have in common?
Everything.
My pal Marlena Spieler was in town to write her Roving Feast column for the Chronicle and had one more day before returning to the UK. We were determined to have a play date. What to do with our limited time together? Marlena was insisting I join her at the Balboa pool in south San Francisco for water aerobics at 6:30P. I wanted lots of delicious delectables. So I proposed a trade. I would schlep, and I mean schlep, from Sonoma to SF for the class and she would introduce me to her friend Hoss Zare. I have been reading about his Meatball Mondays at Fly Trap for years and I simply had to experience them.
Our deal was confirmed with a cyber-handshake. I packed my bathing suit, grabbed a towel and headed south.
When I arrived at the facility, I changed in my car because I wasn't sure if there was a locker room inside. There was.
I can take the heat, but I cannot take the cold. I wondered if the pool would be heated. It was.
This intrepid blogger stepped into the pool with my foam "weights." Marlena and her Cheshire grin joined me. The music of Chris B blared in the background while instructor Jamaal led us in a series of exercises that were more challenging than they looked.
My cynicism was melting away. This was fun. I was splashing around with the regulars, a medley of all ages, colors, ethnicities, fitness levels and socio-economic backgrounds. It was such good juju I promised myself I would return to this class again.
After a quick change we were off to the city for dinner. I found a spot on the street even though it took me five tries and the assist of an Indian restaurateur to squeeze in it.
We sat down and the games began. Course after course of modern Persian fare came to our table. The spices and flavors of Chef Zare's native Iran were unique and lip-smacking. Ironically the biggest course, our kufteh Tabrizi, came last. This humongous meatball is comprised of Niman ranch beef and veal. Just like a box of your childhood cereal, there is a prize inside. Ours was two ribs from a rack of lamb.
Marlena and I marveled about the medley of meats, dried fruits, turmeric, savory, saffron and torshi.
Life, like community pools and giant meatballs, is better shared.

San Francisco City & County Balboa Park Pool www.sfgov.org
http://www.zareflytrap.com/
http://www.sfgate.com/columns/rovingfeast/archive/
http://marlenaspieler.com/