In 15 hours from now, I’ll be on a plane leaving Tehran.

I think the last few days are the hardest, because you have to pack, and for me, if I pack, I’m pretty much limited in clothing because its hard to throw the dirty clothes on top, and I kind of haven’t done anything because I didn’t want to get the clothes I was wearing dirty (which makes no sense) and so these days have been a tiny bit boring (yesterday and today). It was also supposedly really hot both days, but being in air conditioning, I wasn’t aware of that.

Ame Fereshteh offered to let me help make dinner. We’re making dinner out of whatever’s in the fridge/freezer/shelves, which I think means ground beef, eggs, potatoes, bread, strained yogurt, and hopefully we’ll find some veggies.

I should get off the computer so we don’t eat too late, since its almost 6 and we have to get up early tomorrow and I still have to shower and pack my dirty clothes.

I guess this is my last post from Tehran since Bababozorg’s going to do whatever he has to do to his computer when I get off.

But one last thing: Amu Farhad’s office is pretty impressive. It has plastic and live plants!

Mom told me that Uncle Larry was expecting me to make dinner next Friday when we see him for the usual Friday night dinner.
So I’ve been thinking about what to make that would allow me to go out during the day and still have time to cook, and since Uncle Larry’s kitchen is better for cooking with other people around, could be easily transported and made at his house. In addition, I wanted something that if the weather was hot would not put anyone into a food coma.
So I have the solution: Kuku Kedoo for dinner and Faloodeh for dessert. The faloodeh has to be made ahead of time, and kuku is probably the quickest thing I’ve learned with only about 30 minutes of cooking time. And in my opinion, with the squash, is perfect for summer.

Faloodeh will make Dad excited, and me since while it is still one of those things that is yummier away from the house, it was still yummy homemade. Which made it very hard to believe that Ame Fereshteh had never made it before, and figured it out just so I could go home and make it. We had fun trying to make the strands though, since at first it came out as goop. But other than the sharbat she made for it turning out too sweet, it was really good. When I get home, I just have to play with the sharbat and finding something to push it through, and it’ll be perfect.

Friday night I went to آب سرد, (Ab Sard, literally “Cold Water”) or right outside of it, to a family friend’s villa. It was really beautiful. Inside the walls there were a couple of villas, and the first one that belonged to someone else, was a mix of old an new that was gorgeous and amusing at the same time. Such as the outdoor bathroom that was in this hut that you would never expect to house working plumbing, with a really old door. Since we were stuck in traffic and didn’t get there until nine, we stayed up until (actually, I stayed up until 1, I’m not sure about everyone else since I was the first asleep) and left in the morning. When we got back to Tehran (which took an hour, which was almost 3 hours less than it took to get there), Ame Farideh, Bababozorg, and I went rug shopping for a rug for Granma Bunny. We found one. It’s really pretty and I hope she likes it.
Then we went to Tavazo, to get the nuts we were missing and so I could get some packaged lavashak.
Ame Farideh mentioned kabob, and I said the kabob place I like where they made the kabab on one side and the lavash on the other was closed, according to Solmaz, and that’s why I hadn’t had any. I described it and she said it moved.
Where it used to be there’s a pizza place now, and its over a bit in a more discreet, but larger space. It looks fancier now, with the big pots for making khalim in the winter, and it has one of the more modern, easier to use, more efficient tanoors now, not the older-styled smaller one they used to have that I was amused watching. But it was still good.

In the afternoon, I went to Ame Fereshteh’s, where we made faloodeh, she carved a watermelon into a flower, and taught me that even when accidents happen they can be salvaged. I helped her with her little bundles for a bit too while she was in the shower and I was waiting for my clothes to dry and the faloodeh to harden. I put all my stuff in my suitcase and came over to Babazorg’s around 9.
I was going to watch the football (soccer, whatever, this is confusing me now) game, but I fell asleep on the couch half an hour before it started.

This morning I packed my suitcase, but a couple things don’t fit, and I need to charge all my batteries (camera, phone, etc) so I can finish packing those. I’m spending the night at Amu Farhad’s tonight, so the only chance other than today I’ll get to do any packing is probably a couple of hours Monday night, and I’m getting up at four probably on Tuesday morning, (which is still Monday in the US), so I don’t want to leave much for Monday night. Though if I do forgot anything, it would only be 3 months until I could get it back, though it could be forgotten then too.

Faloodeh

8 July 2006

فالوده
(faloodeh)

1 cup (200 mL) starch
3 cups water
a bowl of ice water
sharbat (see recipe [which isn’t here yet because it was sickiningly sweet])

In a small pot stir starch into one up of cold water to dissolve.
One dissolced, and remaining water and continue stirring. Place pot over high heat, stirring constantly to keep from becoming too stiff. After 3-5 minutes, whet it becomes gel-like and binds together, remove from heat.

Fill a bowl with ice and ice water, place someting with holes (that isn’t a sieve) such as a steamer insert, over the bowl and push the starch mixture through it with a spoon or your hands. (Warning: Things are going to get a little bit messy/sticky.)
Stir the strands of starch in the ice water (make sure the water remains really cold.) Let the starch sit in the ice water for at least 5 minutes to firm up.
Remove the strands using a finely slotted spoon or pouring through a sieve.
In an at least 600 mL bowl that fits in your freezer, stir the strands into the sharbat and place in the freezer, stirring occasionally, for at least 5 hours, or until firm.

Wednesday afternoon I went over to Naghmeh’s. She made the batter for nun panjeriyi (literally Window Bread), which are these fried batter things that are hard to explain and I don’t have a picture of with me right now. Well I do, but not on the computer, and since the computer and I are getting along I don’t want to do anything to jeapardize our relationship, such as having more than one thing open at once. For the sweets though, you heat up a stamp-like thing that’s on the end of a stick in hot oil, then dip it in the batter for five seconds, place it back in the hot oil, and you end up with these thin crisps that you then sprinkle with powdered sugar mixed with vanilla powder.

While I was finishing them up, Naghmeh was in the shower, and her phone rang. I have problems with phones and cell phones here for some reason. It was my cousin Arezoo, so I decided to pick up, but accidentally hung up. She was at my grandparent’s house, so Naghmeh gave me a plate to put some of the treats on, and I walked over to Mamanzari’s. I felt bad leaving Naghmeh’s kitchen in the state it was.

Arezoo and I talked for a bit, and had dinner, a yummy خوراک Bababozorg made (essentially vegetables, meat (in this case chicken), and potatoes in one pot). When Arezoo left, she dropped me off at Ame Fereshteh’s, and we made plans for lunch on Thursday.

At Ame Fereshteh’s there was company for Naghmeh, work-related. I’d already eaten, so I said hi, excused myself and went to call Mom. The phone cards were acting really weird. I finally managed to call Mom, but then neither phone card worked (though both had money on them) when I tried to call Granma. I eventually got fed up and was too tired to stay up and watch the France v. Portugal game like I wanted to, helped set the table, and went to bed.

Thursday morning, Ame Fereshteh had to go to Tajrish to get some stuff to finish what she’s working on (she sets up weddings, and she’s making the little pouches that are given to the guests). She needed these little sugar things, fabric, ribbon, and a few other things. Arezoo was ready around 11:15, so she called before Ame Fereshteh and I were done. Ame Fereshteh handed me off to Arezoo and continued her shopping. While I was at the bazaar with Ame though, I managed to find نان خرما (date bread) that was fresh and really yummy. I was going to get a different bread (نان تا فتون), but they weren’t making it for another 30 minutes.

Arezoo was ready early because her mother (Zanamu Mina) and grandmother were joining us, and Zanamu Mina was hungry.
We got to lunch around noon. The place was Shandiz, which is a Mazandaran Kabob place. We had shishleek (I think its lamb). They had a tanoor, so that also meant yummy bread.
During lunch, Zanamu told me she was taking me to Baghe Gohl for the afternoon. As much as I like Baghe Gol, I didn’t want to go because I already had my afternoon planned (and Mamanzari had made me pomegrante ash that is too heavy to eat late at night). Instead I went back to Mamanzari’s so I could go get the pictures from Ame Farideh and help her fill out her visa form. I’m not sure why me.. the form is in French and Farsi, and I’m better with the Farsi than the French, but not enough to fill out an official document obviously.

I spent the night here (my grandparents) and this morning Bababozorg and I went to the Jomeh Bazaar (its in a parking garage every Friday). I liked it better the first time I went, with my aunt. I also left my wad of money on the bed when I switched pants, so I had to get money from Bababozorg once we got there.

Then we came back here around 10. Since then I’ve been… well, not really doing much.

This afternoon we’re going to one of their friends places in Damavand, I think. It’s supposed to be nice.

6 nights, 4 days, and counting…

I’ve been back in Tehran since Monday afternoon (our flight was delayed, or it would have been at noon.)

As soon as I got back, I sat down with a piece of paper, a pen, and a pencil, and wrote out the days remaining. There were 7 then. I decided to not let anything overlap and have days where I sat down and did nothing.

Of course, there were those unexpected factors I couldn’t take into account.

On Tuesday Ame Fereshteh taught me how to make omelet-e panner (onions, homemade cheese, and egg) and khoroshte ghemeh. That afternoon, Kiana, the girl my age I’ve been supposed to see since I got here, came over. I felt bad because I’m sure she would have had more fun if she’d been with her own friends. My language skills and shyness make the conversation dull.> “So, what do you usually do when you aren’t in school?” >”Hang out with my friends. My friends and I go out to eat, go to the movies…” > “Me too. Sort of, well, yeah. Never mind.”

Naghmeh took us to Tajrish Bazaar (she was ready to go home, she was tired, but Ame Fereshteh kind of made her agree) and then out to dinner. Dinner was at a place near the mountains that had 5 levels, going up the side of the cliff. That was pretty cool.

Yesterday (Wednesday), I got up at 6:30, showered, walked to get some fresh Nan Barbari (stood in line because they were selling faster than they were making them) and brought it to Bababozorg and Mamanzari for breakfast. Bababozorg and I then walked to a bank, took a car to another, and then a car to the metro station. We then took the metro to the Bazaar-e Farsh (Rug Bazaar) to look for a rug for Granma Bunny. We were not successful. We got some seeds, and then took the metro back and a bus.

On the metro, Bababzborg said we’d go on the women’s car because it wasn’t as crowded. I told him he was a guy, and he said it didn’t matter. Of course it did. A couple of stops later a policemen told him to get off. He didn’t want to, I told him to go and I’d stay where it was less crowded, I knew where to get off. He finally did, but he wasn’t happy about it. A nice lady named Zahra whose birthday it was befriended me. She kept remarking on how well I spoke Farsi. I managed to get off on the right stop (it was the last) and just waited against the wall until I saw Bababzborg. Other than the crowdedness, I liked the metro. The bus was separated too, but it was old and creaky and the railing I was holding on to didn’t stay in place as we went over bumps.

I’d keep writing, but I’m tired, just noticed its ten, and I still have to call Mom.

Off to Esfahan

29 June 2006

I’m going to Esfahan for a couple of days, so I’ll probably be even father away from a computer.

Right now Mamanzari is teaching me how to make Lubia Polow. She’s more of a hands on teacher, which makes it harder for me to write things down. And I once again forgot to bring her onions.

I checked the weather for Esfahan, and it isn’t any hotter than here.
Right now though, its a surprisingly cool 31 degrees C, or 88 F. It didn’t seem much cooler though when I walked over here. I was planning to walk back to Ame’s after lunch and figured that way the shower would feel super refreshing.

Yesterday I worked with Ame Farideh and someone whose name I can never seem to remember to translate Ame Farideh’s things since their original translations weren’t very easy to understand.

I have three more recipes to post, but the computer and I have not been getting along lately (though I do actually have my USB cable today) so it may be a while.

کوکو کدو
(Kuku Kedoo, Squash Pancake)
Serves 3-6

2 medium size squash
1 heaping table spoon + 1 tea spoon flour
3 eggs
1/2 tea spoon adviyeh
1 tea spon salt
1/8 tea spoon saffrom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
80 mL oil

tomatoes, onions, picked veggies, greens, and bread (to serve)

Coarsely grate squash into a medium sized bowl.
Add flour and spices and stir to combine.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Heat oil in a 9″ skillet over medium-high heat and pour in egg mixture. Lower to medium heat. Put lid on with a cloth to absorb moisture.
Cook for about 8-10 minutes. Remove lid. Cut in half twice (into four even sized pieces) and flip each piece over. Cut each of those pieces into half so that there are 8 slices.
Continue to cook for for another 10-15 minutes, or until well browned on both sides.

Forgetful is Me

27 June 2006

Last night Ame Fereshteh made Khoresh Gorme Sabze.

I was going to post the recipe, along with the photo. But I remembered the camera but forgot to cable to connect it to the computer.

I’m not sure what I’m doing today, but I know its supposed to be pretty hot again. But I think I’m getting used to it, because yesterday after I walked back to Ame Fereshteh’s, I walked to the fruit shop, where I managed to buy (not enough) fruit all by myself, and then went and got some sunscreen.

This morning though, Ame Fereshteh informed me that Mamanzari fell down again last night. She was still at Ame Fereshteh’s though, so she wasn’t alone. That makes me worry about leaving her alone since its her second fall since I got to Iran. I came to see her for breakfast (she’s on the phone right now) and because I’m a bit worried about her. Solmaz is coming in less than an hour to take her to get her hair cut, so I should probably go make sure she’s ready on time.

I’m back to staying at Ame Fereshteh’s again. I moved most of my stuff back last night, and grabbed the rest this morning. I was going to wait until Wednesday or so, but talking to Dad on the phone, he suggested I move sooner because I’d probably be less bored with her than staying here with Mamanzari. I feel kind of bad abandoning her, but I can be more active and help Ame with her work. Plus, Mamanzari is only an 8-15 minute walk away, so I’ll probably try to come here every day.

This morning Ame Fereshteh and I walked over here, and then with Ame Farideh went for a walk after I finished my jump roping. It’s a shame that it took me until today to realize that the ceiling below Mamanzari’s apartment is high enough to jump rope, the rope just barely skims it. And its shady.

We went to a third park, one I hadn’t been to before, that has really pretty fountains. Even in the sun, right next to the waterfall from the fountain is nice and cool. Plus, once you’ve gotten past the initial sweat phase, it doesn’t seem all that hot out. I didn’t get a headache or anything, I was just a bit thirsty since I hadn’t grabbed a bottle of water like I’d meant to.

On our way back to Mamanzari’s, we stopped and picked up some fresh lavash. And I mean fresh as in straight out of the rotating oven thing, and my wrist was sweatier than it should’ve been when we got back to Mamanzari’s. That’s when I can’t resist the bread. Day old and not as soft lavash is easier. She’d already left for her friend’s house though. It’s Quran reading day. Ame Fereshteh and I joined her later on, around 12:30, for the end of the explanations, lunch, and the socializing.

Coming back from Mamanzari’s friend’s house I stayed with Mamanzari to make sure she made it up the stairs okay. I told Ame Fereshteh I’d walk back later. I’m sure of the way now. I’ll just wait until Mamanzari’s all settled in for her nap, being sure that she doesn’t need anything, have another glass of water, call Ame Fereshteh, and head out. I’m thinking I might even risk wearing foam-soled flip flops because I didn’t feel like wearing socks, and my feet’ll make my shoes smell terrible. That and I have a blister on my ankles from my running shoes this morning. They do that to you if they aren’t tight enough, but I trip over my jump rope less in them.

On Friday I went to an opening with Ame Farideh. And then to Amu Farhad's house to get ready to go to his friend's house.
At his friend's house I spent most of the time sitting quietly, but did talk to Amir for a bit, except he used too many big words and asked questions about college entrance exams in the United States that I don't know the answer to since its a bit of a ways away. I also talked to Zahra for a while. She's twelve, almost thirteen, so she's close to my age. She was easier to understand.

Amu Farhad had taken a cake. Right as I was trying really hard to stay awake sitting in a chair, I hear happy birthday in Farsi. I was so out of it at this point that I was wondering whose birthday it was and it took a while to register that they were looking at me. So I had another cake to destroy while cutting. I need to practice my cake cutting skills, or maybe its just the utensils I've been given to use aren't the easiest. They tend to not be long enough, so their handles end up with most of the cream icing.

Then around 2 or so we returned to Amu Farhad's, I called Mom and Dad and talked to them for a bit, gave the phone to Amu Farhad, and went to sleep immediately. I actually got up rather late for me, but around 8 only gave me 6 hours of sleep. And it was the second night in a row I'd done that.

Yesterday I didn't really do anything in the morning. Zanamu Mina brought me back to Mamanzari's around 10:30-ish, and I worked on getting the photos online, wrote, cut up cucumbers and tomatoes and made sandwiches for lunch in Ame Farideh's sandwich machine. I then tried not to munch, but ended up doing so anyways. I started to reread The Truth About Forever, and am not on Chapter 5 or so for the second time. It's easier to put down when you've already read it.

Ame Farideh told me to be ready at 3:30 if I wanted to go out with her; she had to go to one of Amu Farhad's projects and then was going to go to another opening. I wasn't that interested in going to work with her, figuring I'd be really bored (but it wasn't as boring as I thought it would be), and I thought another opening would be neat, and I figured I'd get out that way. So I was ready, and around 4:30 she was too so we left.

The project that I saw was Amu Farhad's. Donyaye Arezoo, a shopping mall that they're currently building. From the models I saw and stuff, it was really interesting. They have all these images of what it'll look like when its all done. Right now outside the construction site on a wall are these mosaics and other collage-y pictures Ame Farideh did.

I really liked the opening, it was at Tehran University (I think), and went along with the one I went to Friday, only was more photography and printing, so I liked it better. The only problem was I was exhausted and hoping to get to bed at 8, which considering we left at 7:45, wasn't going to happen. I'm sure if Ame Farideh hadn't had me with her she would have stayed longer. I hate it when I feel like I'm a burden to someone.
Ame Farideh offered to take me to a vegetarian restaurant, so I accepted, against my better judgment. I should've gone with my first instinct of no and just gone home and gone to bed. I ended up going to bed at 10:30 or so, and slept today until 8. I don't think I slept enough. My stupid headache hasn't gone away.
AND I had pizza for dinner last night.

But don't take that the wrong way, its not to say I'm not having a good time. I'm just probably jeopardizing myself because of some of my decisions and trying not to burden anyone and not wanting to leave Mamanzari alone. I could be at Ame Fereshteh's with a girl whose name I have no clue how to try to spell (Kiana?) who is my age. I think I might see her tomorrow. Or Tuesday. It would be nice if I could figure out how to call people, but despite having the numbers and dialing them, I get wrong numbers, the "please check the number and try again spiel", or answering machines (which I do not like).