“You may additionally attend school in America,” my mum often instructed me and my brothers while we were youngsters in our local San Diego, in the Nineteen Eighties, “but while you come domestic, you’re in Iran.”
Accordingly, we spoke Farsi, and attended Persian school on Saturdays to discover ways to examine and write the language; we listened to classical Persian setar song; and celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
But truely, the most effective shape of cultural immersion we skilled became culinary. My mum, who left Iran in 1976, steeped us inside the smells, tastes, and traditions of Persian delicacies. She spent hours upon hours every week traversing not simply San Diego but additionally Orange County and Los Angeles, over a hundred miles away, looking for the flavors that reminded her of Iran. She taught us that irrespective of what turned into taking place in the news, domestic is domestic, and nothing can delivery you there like flavor.
In Irvine, she found a bakery making sparkling sangak, a giant dimpled flatbread named for the pebbles that line the oven ground on which the slabs of dough are baked. She’d line us all up there on weekend mornings so that each folk ought to order the three-consistent with-individual maximum – 12 portions being enough to justify the hour-and-a-1/2-long force for bread.
Systematically, she sold and tasted each emblem of simple yogurt to be had at the grocery keep, on the lookout for the thickest, sourest one. She often packed us into our blue station wagon and drove across the metropolis to the international grocer, in which she should have her desire of 7 sorts of feta and buy sparkling herbs by using the pound instead of by using the bunch.
The cornerstone of every Persian meal is rice. Each day, my mum would unzip a five-kilogram burlap sack of rice – constantly basmati – and component out a cup according to man or woman into a huge bowl, rinsing and soaking it for hours before giving it a quick boil. Then she’d begin the sorcery required to make tahdig, the crispy rice crust by using which each Persian cook’s worth is measured.
Sometimes, she’d line the pot with lavash for a bread tahdig. On different events, when a special ride for bread wasn’t possible, she’d use a comfortably available flour tortilla, which yielded, also, glorious results. Either manner, she’d divide and serve the rice and tahdig, encouraging us youngsters to delay gratification and face up to gobbling down that gloriously crunchy crust first. I in no way could.
Persian delicacies are, specifically, about stability – of tastes and flavors, textures, and temperatures. In each meal, even on each plate, you’ll find each candy and sour, smooth and crunchy, cooked and raw, hot and bloodless. In the wintry weather, we ate khoresh-e fesenjoon, a hearty, sweet-and-bitter pomegranate, and walnut stew to heat us from within. In the summer, we might peel eggplant for khoresh-e bademjoon, a vibrant tomato and eggplant stew made surprisingly tart with lemon juice and ghooreh, or unripe grapes.