This Thanksgiving marks the very first time ever since my family moved to the U.S that I won’t be observing this secular holiday haven of food and gratitude on American soil. I’m in Tehran (as you know) where I’m beginning to feel more and more at home, and yet, as is the peculiar and paradoxical wont of the hyphenated identity, I’m also away from home and miss family, friends, and biking across the Brooklyn bridge; and I’m homesick for that glorious je ne sais quoi of foliage and glitter and decadent cinnamon-laden frothy coffee concoctions that is the fall and the holiday season in New York.
I’m not making a turkey dinner to mark the occasion because frankly, I’m lazy, and instead I’m getting together with a dear old school chum. That will be a celebratory feast in and of itself.
Thanksgiving is of course as much about food and family as it is about gratitude. Personally, I am deeply grateful for myriad blessings big and small this year, taking none for granted, and yet, on a Debbie Downer note, I can’t help but be forlorn by the brutal and appalling turn of events in the world. Then again, I take a deep breath and recall sage words of wisdom of how each of us can be agents of change by the way we behave and react to the world; and remember a Persian poem that goes: “There’s much hope in hopelessness, and at the end of the darkest night is the light of the dawn.”
Here’s to hope and dawn and light and all that is good and delicious. I wish each and everyone of you celebrating this festive holiday to have a wonderful and warm gathering and bellies filled with turkey and cranberry and yummy stuffing (yum yum, miss it already) and for the rest of us, I wish hearts filled with kindness and gratitude. (If you want to listen to a great podcast on the subject of gratitude, Google TTBOOK’s “Gratitude Attitude” – it’s quite enlightening.)
In lieu of recipes and pictures of a feast, what I have for you are some photos that I hope will be akin to a visual feast of sorts.
Here’s the story of this pic: one time we were at home minding our business when the doorbell rang and lo, we were offered these two bowls of “nazri” Persian saffron rice pudding aka sholeh zard (a good recipe here.)
“Nazri” is the food or alms that believers make and offer to the public-at-large (or feed to the needy) in the hopes of having their prayers answered.
These sholeh zards were really good by the way! Quality ingredients! Pistachio, cinnamon and almonds and the perfectly light touch of rose water. YUM!
Ooh! This refreshment (back in Kermanshah) was such a treat: fresh shahtoot (red mulberries) picked from my cousin’s fruit garden, frozen, and served with a little silver spoon in a little bowl. Each bite was ice cold and sweet and tart and crunchy and so good I wanted to weep! Ha ha. I’m half joking. I do want to weep now though when I can only look at its photo and don’t have any to gobble up. (The pretty paisley fabric is called “termeh” by the way.)
Just recently I went to my friend’s awesome cafe, called Golo Morgh Cafe in Lavassan (a mountainous and posh suburb of Tehran) where among other things, I enjoyed this luscious tart. The thick coffee table photo book next to the tart was a treat as well, but I only got to leaf through a very few pages of it! I very much hope to return to this cafe again and again.
These are called “albaloo khoshkeh” or dried sour cherries. Among the most favorite childhood snacks of my childhood. What can I say except that are: SO. GOOD! And addictive. Very very addictive.
On a particularly nice and bright and brisk day, one of my friends and her husband took me mountain hiking in Darakeh. What a day! We hiked the rocky trail with the roar of the river snaking around and underneath our path and practically each step of the way was filled with happy hikers and vendors offering everything from persimmon to to walnuts and pomegranates. For lunch we stopped at a mom and pop popular cafe for the most exquisite fesenjan I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting and before that, once we had spent nearly two hours hiking, we lounged on wooden beds lined with threadbare Persian carpets in a garden with tall walnut trees and the sound track of the stream flowing through it and ordered tea. Our tea tray came laden with lemons and dates and the windfall of the azgil (loquats) were the rewards of a chance encounter with another friend.
On that note, I’ll take my leave and go make myself a nice cup of tea.
Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!