A Place for Sharing

the gallows

I grew up in a family of “sharers.” Dinner was a battlefield; no one’s dish was his own. Ok, that’s a tad dramatic. But in an effort to taste “a little bit of everything,” as my mom would say, we readily employed our bread dishes to share bites of each other’s orders. Sure, I appreciate having something that is “mine” and experiencing a composed dish as the chef intended it. But I still have acquired this neurotic compulsion to experience as many tastes off a menu as possible.

It really wasn’t until college that I found out that normal people don’t always follow this dining code. Even since then, I have occasionally found myself encouraging others to taste my dishes when they’re good and getting no such offers in return. I have dear friends who are strict “non-sharers,” and I respect that. But I certainly won’t take them to The Gallows.

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Goodbye, Love

chocolate-pistachio tart

I cannot say that I’m a “chocoholic.”

I eat chocolate in some way, shape, or form everyday. I’m known to top off my lunches with a small chocolate treat. At night, a square of 85% dark soothes my stomach after a day’s eating. I find the taste of straight dark chocolate to be divine — toe-curling, even — in its rich, fruity complexity. I love that perfectly tempered, snappy milk chocolate melts into creamy submission once it touches your lips. It’s difficult to savor; it’s gone in an instant. And sure, some white “chocolate” can be cloying on its own, but its high cocoa butter content makes it a luxurious pairing with more piquant ingredients.

But, no, I’m not a “chocoholic.”
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Happy Pockets

great grains muffins

I hate to start this way, but I’m writing this post with a massive headache. I suffer from frequent headaches, and each has its own personality, its own beat. Sometimes the throbbing is constant, my head becoming a marcher’s drum. Sometimes it is latent, and a cloudy haze takes over my brain. Sometimes the eye of the pain is situated directly between my eyebrows, taunting and teasing me to close my lids as I work, fighting it. Sometimes, it spans the back of my head to my neck, as if my brain is sending endless neurological messages of hate down to my feet.

I would never wish chronic headaches on another person, nor would I wish to have more moments of pain than I do, but there is always a silver lining – a pleasant side to the pain. Today, it’s a re-recognition of radiant color that’s putting a smile on my face. While my vision is blurry, the brilliant sheen of the softball-sized red onions and the candy apple red of the scattered grape tomatoes in my vegetable bowl pop today. Usually, their contrast is far less obvious when the other tones of my kitchen are not as blurry and bland.
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A Feast of Plenty

saffron cauliflower, chard omelettes, & fried lima beans

I am in awe, folks. Complete awe. I came here with a story in mind – something I’ve wanted to share in this space for a while. I pictured words streaming from my fingertips as I reminisced about an enjoyed meal, a Persian New Year feast. But I can’t do it. Not today. That meal deserves to be the only thing that is shared today.

I said I would report back on the food I ate on the thirteenth day of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. I promised it would be delicious, as I’ve made some of the dishes before. I didn’t, however, think it would be enough to leave me, quite literally, speechless. Long story short, Persian families traditionally celebrate and picnic on that day to squelch all evil that is associated with the number thirteen. Since there would not be any literal picnicking going on, I thought I would serve some mezze plates that used Persian flavors with some fluffy and buttery basmati rice and the requisite Shirazi salad.

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persian new year & tabrizi bakery

Although I already posted a rambling, springtime soliloquy last week, the first day of Spring holds a little more meaning. The vernal equinox marks the Persian New Year, Nowruz, which translates to “the new day.” There’s something very beautiful about that, no? I’m very much accustomed to our calendar and will always associate the official new year — you know, the changing of the date — with January 1st. But I love the idea that every year, out of the frost and out of the dark comes a rebirth of sorts. After winter winds have adequately cleansed the earth (ok, maybe not so much this year), a new year, and more importantly, a new life can begin.

Nowruz is celebrated with fanfare and all of its traditions revolve around food, family, and a little abstract mythology as well. I’m especially fond of Persian families’ emphasis on cleaning in the days preceding Spring. The compulsion to start fresh, to start with a clean slate, to start on the right foot is universal. We all want that, we all need that sometimes. It’s that mentality that contributed to the pure optimism of my last post.

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