Eftari in Masouleh
Massouleh, Gilan, Photo By Nigel Bahrani
It's Friday. I had eftari and dinner guests tonight. I took some sweet pictures of my eftari spread to show you, but somehow they were lost and I am bummed out about it. I grew up in a big family, with many siblings and many more who stayed with us. I learned how to cook when I was twelve, after my mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and it became apparent that she could no longer single-handedly feed close to 20 people at mealtimes. We all learned how to shop, cook, and entertain at my father's urging, as he knew that my mother was depressed about not being able to keep up the physical effort, and our household had to stay a welcome place for all in it and all who came. Cooking for many people is easy for me. Cooking for just a few is simply impossible! Every time I cook for my parties now, I always have several days' worth of leftovers! If I haven't un-learned cooking for 20 by now, I doubt I can do it here on end! So, halva, ash reshteh, and several other dishes will be our food for days to come!
As is now a habit with me, my thoughts and worries for Iran invariably take me to Iran. In my imagination, I visit its many corners, villages, towns, and cities. I walk down its streets, and stop by its tea houses (ghahveh khooneh). In another life, I used to travel to Gilan every Ramadan, to visit friends and family there. On one of those trips, on a cold November day, I had eftari (breakfast) at a tiny tea house in Masouleh, a village entirely built on a mountain. Masouleh is a tourist town, with most of its natives now old men and women. Their youth leave the village to go to live in cities and abroad. The village feels eerie and quiet in off-season. The hot tea, the bread and cheese, and the fresh eggs omlette I had in that teahouse, listening to the wise and articulate old men in presence is one of my most cherished memories. Tonight, I visited Masouleh again, and walked its crooked uphill pavements, looking in on the tiny houses whose backyards are the roofs of houses below. I went to its miniature cemetery located in the middle of all the houses, and stopped by a bookshop where I could always find banned books, unavailable in Tehran bookshops. I had my delicious Lahijan tea in that teahouse tonight, looking through the window panes covered with steam. I was in Iran tonight. I wish you all a very good weekend, filled with rest and hopeful thoughts. Surround yourselves with people you love, and shoo bad thoughts away from your mind and soul. Tell those you love that you love them. Let them take care of you and be prepared to do the same for them. Be good y’all.