I have been tagged for un même by a dear friend in Real Life, the gorgeous Mrs T.

Mrs Trefusis, an Important Person in the Glossy Magazine World, writes a lyrical blog called Mrs Trefusis Takes A Taxi, (“because she eschews sensible shoes”). She can write eloquently and beautifully about any subject, which is the reason why I am addicted to her blog, be it on A Working Woman’s Dilemma to On Beauty and Looking Younger to writing about life at home with her Trefusis Clan. She is self-effacing, beautiful and witty. Here is the link to her blog.

In “My blogs to watch in 2010“, Mrs Trefusis has tagged me to write 10 things about myself. In true Pakistani tradition, I shall go with Eleven- we always make it an odd number- which is auspicious and symbolises continuity.

So, my Eleven:

1 I don’t like Michelin star restaurants (oh, the scandal, the sacrilege, Shayma!) and have no desire to go to any, ever again. I am a street food nut and adore simple and simply prepared foods, like spaghetti al pomodoro ciliegino, pizza al taglio, assam laksa and erm, a slab of foie gras with crusty bread. (I do bend the simple rules once in a while). Oh, and samosas near Liberty Market in Lahore (my photo of the greasy, crispy triangles, above).

2 The one material possession I would not like to live without is a bespoke emerald and pearl ring given to me by Amma, my mother-in-law. Handcrafted in Karachi, it was given to her by her mother-in-law when she got married and passed down to me as a family heirloom. I wear this ring on my index finger everyday of my life.

3 My favourite perfume is made by Diptyque. It was gifted to me many years ago by MrsT and I have used it ever since, loyally. Obviously, I asked my husband to take this photo. Bien Sur.

4 My favourite restaurant in the world is Tutti Frutti, in Testaccio, Rome, Italy. (NB: This restaurant has changed ownership as of 2011, under the same name, but sadly, I no longer recommend it). My best friend and I used to go there every month. We always ordered the same seasonal dishes. The curly puntarelle prepared by the owner Michele’s Bangladeshi Chef, were our favourite, he knew how to get the salt, garlic, anchovy combination just perfect. We went there numerous times with many other people, and in the end, decided the food just didn’t taste as good with anyone else. We were quite anti-social like that.

5 My most memorable vacation was when I was 11- we traveled across Spain and Portugal with my parents, spending time in every Paradores and Posadas on the Iberian Peninsula. Baba, my father fell asleep at the wheel and we all almost died, but those are just details. We ate a lot of steak with a wobbly fried egg on top and garlic prawns in small terracotta dishes.

6 Even after having spent summers and endless vacations in Paris, I still want to discover each and every single caves à manger, bistro, bar, museum, l’épicerie fine, tearoom. I am always looking for Le Poiré de Normandie. Not easy to find in Paris, but one of our favourite restaurants, Café des Musées, serves it. I love it so much, I want it for breakfast. It’s made with pears, that counts as daily fruit intake, doesn’t it?

7 The longest I have lived in any city (barring Washington, DC) in one stretch is Rome, Italy. I love it and miss it every single day. I took this photo from Il Giardino degli Aranci, a few metres from my home. I can still hear the crunch of pebbles under my shoes, walking towards the end of the park, under the bitter orange trees.

8 Some of my favourite movies are Non Ti Muovere; Bridget Jones’ Diary; Le Cerf-Volant; West BeirutSliding Doors; Love, Actually; Four Weddings & A Funeral; L’Ultimo Bacio; Bella Martha; Ferzan Ozpetek’s films; the genius Almodovar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown; Decalogue, (especially “I Am the Lord Thy God“) and Red, both by Krzystof Kieslowski; Amelie, and Truffaut’s Les Quatre Cents Coups.

My sisters will claim I also love Chasing Liberty. Hrmph, I say. I ain’t bovvered.

9 My favourite writer is hands down, Coetzee, Coetzee, Coetzee.

10 I love several cookbooks, but it is through Marcella Hazan that I learned how to improve my Italian cooking skills, before I had even moved to Rome. Thankfully, even pre-Marcella I never added cheese to my seafood dishes. Ma che schifo!

11 I can’t do a Top 11 about myself without mentioning my Baba. He doesn’t cook but he adores anything that comes out of my kitchen, (but when it’s bad he says so). We read the FT together on weekends. Or sms each other about which article to read when we’re not together. He keeps a folder, (very old school), full of newspaper cuttings for me. He is known to enjoy a Partagás, quote Keats and Mirza Ghalib, and speak Armenian and Punjabi like a local. He has more ties than I have shoes.



  1. I adored this confessional? autobiography , sorry.
    The ring is beautiful your father is a beautiful man (just like his daughter) two very special people
    I cooked from Marcella Hazan’s book too, learned how to perfect osso bucco and lasagne verde
    Love that Rome view, bet you miss it!
    Love Truffaut too, but his movie “Vivement Dimanche” is tops with me!
    Hey, did you ever go for tea at Mariage Freres?

  2. Kash Hussain says:

    Lovely post.

  3. So wonderful! What an absolutely beautiful post. Xxx

  4. Dearest Shayma… that was really enjoyable…lots of love, Chayya.

  5. Shayma you always know what to say…in the most touching way ever…I love it!

  6. OMG is all I can say. You really take me to a fantasy world:-)

  7. shayma jan – lovely – miss you more now…xx

  8. @Taste of Beirut Thank you, J, for the lovely compliments. Ah, so many beautiful Truffaut movies to choose from, this is the problem with lists. Sigh. Mariage Frères? Bien Sur! :) Love it, and love the Marais.

    @Kash Thank you.

    @Mrs T Ah, the lovely Mrs T. Thanks, darling. x

    @Chayya So, so lovely to see you here, Chayya. Thanks so much for visiting. Much love, s.

    @Fran Thanks for the support, as always, piu bella del mondo.

    @Maggie joon Thanks, love. You are living your dream, you don’t need to be in a fantasy world :)

    @Nairy How I miss you, too. We have had some beautiful evenings involving food- Yerevan, Rome, Frascati, Alicante, eating, drinking, talking, laughing, la vita è assolutamente bella.

  9. Shayma,

    You must read Coetzee’s new book – Summertime. The character is dry but Coetzee makes him sound incredible.

    Loved this blog of yours.

  10. what a lovely post Shayma jan! i enjoyed every bit of it, as usual! looking forward to reading more.x

  11. I think I may have forgotten to mention it before but I love your blog. I love how you tell all your stories. Do you speak both Italian and French?

  12. we have alot in common. that puntarelle is calling my name right now.

  13. love that you did the odd 11, so shayms! :) And uff those liberty galli valay samosay *yum*

  14. But nowadays there are such a different range of restaurants under the Michelin umbrella! Lovely post – I wish I had something I wanted to wear every day.

  15. @Rania Thanks, dear. I have read each and everything ever written by Coetzee :)

    @Azita Jan Thank you, as always.

    @Sharbet Thank you so much. Italian, yes but I don’t speak French, my vocabulary is satisfactory enough for me to be able to find my way around when visiting Paris. And I have learnt all the most important words in the language, which are found on menus, of course :)

    @We Are Never Full We certainly do, because I adore all the photos on your blog.

    @Fati The samosas, the jalebis, the namak paaray, the chaat, which I am now forbidden to eat :( lest I should get sick. Isn’t street food the best?

    @Lizzie Tee hee, you have to educate me then, because the Michelin Star restaurants I have been to were just dull. Thanks for visiting. x

  16. Hey Shayma, I don’t cook but I do bake CERAMICS :-)), but this particular entry of yours I like a lot. Rome is also one of the favourite cites I have lived in, and I love it almost as much as Lahore.

    Love the ring. Fantabulous

  17. Shayma. You make me miss my dad, who died some years ago! I want to go to a Michelin starred restaurant and hope to fall in love with street food in India….soon! I watched Bridget Jones Diary on New Year’s day and I cried….I am a cry baby though…..You really, made me laugh….and almost cry. ♥.

  18. Lovely meme! Read like the delectable story it truly is.

  19. @Mahbina Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for the compliment regarding the ring. The beauty of Rome just gets everyone hooked, doesn’t it?

    @Kitchen Butterfly You must have had a loving relationship with your father. May he be resting in peace. I cry every time I watch Bridget Jones (did I just write that in public!). Do come to Pakistan, we have great street food, too :) x s

    @Mothership Thank you, as always. x s

  20. Lovely post!Really enjoyed it.

  21. Lovely post! Your father reminds me of my Dada, who used to post me envelopes stuffed with newspaper cuttings when I was away for college and then quiz me on them when I went home for holidays.

  22. Lovely post.
    I didn’t realised tu parli italiano? come mai sei vissuta in roma? lavoro? :)

  23. @Ashoo Apa Thanks for always leaving such loving comments. Sending a huge hug your way.

    @Nida It makes me really happy to hear that something I write evokes these sort of memories in my readers. I liked hearing about your Dada jan, do share more stories with us. Thank you for visiting.

    @Maninas Grazie mille. Ho lavorato a Roma presso le Nazione Unite come economista. Come mai parli l’italiano?”

  24. From Coetzee to Dyptique—not to mention the culinary crossovers—we’re sailing down the river of life in the same boat, Shayma! Glad to read the musings of a kindred spirit.

  25. LOVED IT! Definitely off to the bookstore for a Coetzee… Teach me about living life to the fullest… more! Miss you!

  26. @Gluttonforlife I really love your blog and am so pleased that you have found mine. It’s lovely to know that it is not just the culinary crossovers which bring us together, but also Diptyque and Coetzee, after all, scent and literature are as important as food, are they not?

    @Arjumand Thanks so much. Come and visit so we can live it up, miss you back. x s

  27. Can I just say I love you even more my dear! LOVED reading the 11…great number eh? Identify with you completely. Got a ring a bit like yours…love the old art work on it. Love your place connecs and memories, right down to the crunch of the pebbels. Bridget Jones Diary… woot girl! Me too!! Our tastes are very similar!
    {HUGS…big ones}

  28. Enjoyed reading this today!
    (Just got home from Falklands today, thanks for your lovely comments on my blog while I was away)
    And thanks for adding the RSS, much appreciated!
    x x x

  29. Hello, this is my first time visiting your blog, it’s a lovely blog,full of nostalgic memories, the thing i’m being attach to alot lately. I love your pictures, and the stories you write about. I think,if i am allowed to say, that you have an interesting rich life.I like the Pakistani recipes you’re writing about,as theyare an introduction to Pakistani cuisine to me.The ring is so beautiful.I’ll stay in touch.

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