Re-creating a Favorite

flattened za’atar chicken over cheese pancake

chicken under brick
Lately, things have been a little dark in this space. A little too sad and depressing. I’m getting itchy and restless. There have been hints of beauty, even hilarity, in the midst of the normal sniffles and general unpleasantness that define this season for me, and it’s time to breath and enjoy a bit.

One thing I typically start doing more of this time of year is eating out. There are a lot of new(ish) places I look forward to checking out now that I am awake from my long winter’s nap. But last weekend I found myself wanting to play with seasonal flavors (well, the ones I can find right now) in a dish, or a version of one, I enjoy from my favorite standby restaurant in my area. Maybe recreating this restaurant dish serves to bridge the transition from eating in to eating in and out. But it was fun, and it is definitely going on the rotation.

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Transition

gingered carrots and fennel with orange yogurt sauce

Fennel Fronds
I feel no need to bring in spring with fanfare this year. For me, spring is nothing more than a necessary but damp and awkward passageway of sore throats, watery eyes, and frizzled locks to what I’m waiting for: the real sun and the real heat of summer.

But I will admit that the strain of plucking a single flower, even a bunch, from the roots is far lighter than that of shoveling heavy, damp, packed snow; trekking through untamed city streets; and drying off cold, wet feet. It beats the clenching of knuckles and fists on the steering wheel, as they fight against sheer ice, and thick ice, and black ice, and wipeout-inducing ice. The warm scent of rain wins over that of the stagnant air inside the house. And the excited chirps of birdies back from vacation outweigh the grating sounds of the early morning plow trucks, signaling that is was not a good night.

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Nowruz

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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