Suzanne DiMaggio is vice president of global policy programs at the Asia Society and directs the U.S.-Iran initiative there; she’s worked on U.S.-Iran Track II dialogues for over a decade at the Asia Society and the United Nations Association of the USA. Before participating in a panel on whether Iran is becoming America’s new best friend, she talked Richard Holbrooke, Iranian stew, and why she likes the sound of the word “ointment” in the Zócalo green room.
Who is the one person, living or dead, that you’ve love to have a beer with?
Richard Holbrooke, who I knew quite well. He died rather suddenly, so I’d like to finish a conversation that I was having with him.
What’s your number-one rule that should not be broken when you’re negotiating?
To never be inflexible.
Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares?
I have a recurring dream—sort of a nightmare—where I am in high school, and I forget the combination to my locker.
What’s the ugliest piece of furniture you own?
Definitely my couch. It’s beige and lumpy and kind of disgusting.
Do you have a favorite Iranian food?
My most favorite Iranian food is fesenjan. It’s a stew made from pomegranate and walnuts and usually beef.
Where do you go to be alone?
I listen to music on my headphones. I could be in a crowd, but once I have the headphones on, it feels meditative.
What country in Asia would you like to travel to next?
Iran. Always Iran.
When’s the last time you were there?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
What’s your favorite word?
Ruby. Followed closely by ointment. I just like the way it sounds.