Sirine, a thrty-nine year old Iraqi-American chef living in Los Angeles, falls in love with Hanif, a political exile from Baghdad. All the expected ingredients for a tale of love and heartache, but savour additional flavours of the exotic and mysterious through sumptuous dishes created at Cafe Nadia. A feast for all the senses.
Han fills Sirine's plate and feeds her a morsel of lamb from his fingers, as if food is their private language. They talk about school and work. The words flow into the eating. And she eats and eats. The flavors are intense in her mouth, the sweet-almondy fruitiness of the pistachios beside the smoky sour taste of the sumac, delicate saffron, and herbal notes of olive. Her stomach starts to ache, unused to so much food. Han eats little himself, instead bringing bites of meat and spoonfuls of rice to her mouth.
When, finally, she cannot eat another bite, she sits back, laughs and fans herself with one hand. Han will not let her help with the dishes; he tells her to relax, relax, and begins stacking everything himself, the dishes clattering.