Persian BBQ and Yogurt with Swords!

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I seriously had to ask Payam whether my readers (all 300 of you! Woot! Up from 200!) would rather hear about my bathroom redeaux (aka organizing the tweenagers crap with an Ikea hack) OR Persian Barbecue.  Of course he said barbecue because he thinks talking about house porn on the internet is boring. (Even though he’s just as addicted to HGtv as I am.) Maybe bathroom re-organizing is boring. I don’t think so. I think it’s the best thing EVER. I’m sure I’ll be back here with that another day.

Barbecue it is!

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I’ve been super spoiled two days in a row because we broke out the barbecue like it’s summer or something. Last night was Persian BBQ and the night before was frozen grocery store hamburgers. Don’t knock ’em. It meant NO cooking for me! I know, I should have made some kind of potato salad or maybe squeezed some balsamic-glazed bockchoy in on the barbecue… but phooey! I was not paying attention at all because I was off doing my own thing on my computer which is COMING UP WITH AN ART CAMP THIS SUMMER! (Yes, I totally am. Stay tuned.)

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The dogs were quite interested in this new development. “I CAN HAZ SOME, DAD?”

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Inconveniently, we ran out of dog food so I did actually do some cooking for the dogs. I threw some chicken in the instant pot and made a pot of sticky rice and they thought it was THANKSGIVING DINNER! Most spoiled dogs ever.

I do love our little patio. Everything is blooming right now and what used to look like a dilapidated abandoned puzzle of pots is now looking like a lush garden. Well, minus the grass and maybe a few hundred more plants. I can dream. Sometimes I miss having a real backyard but then I get my water bill and I think pavers are fine.

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After Payam had de-skewered the grilled chicken and steak he made a pot of Persian Tadique rice. If you know it, you love it. It has this crust on the top that is crunchy and buttery and pretty much as addictive as chips. Everyone loves it except Bug which is fine with everyone.

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Then we all sat down for dinner. (Note that we had paper plates. Mama was taking the night off! Oh yeah.) And this is what happened when I asked them to pose for me.

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Payam is pretty much thinking, Can we get on with this already? I’m starving. He’s a very good “instagram husband.”

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And then we dug in!

I love to put yogurt and Salad Shirazi on top of my rice which is sort of a faux pas to real Persians but they look the other way and let me do my gringo thing. Salad Shirazei is actually “Salad from the province of Shirazei” which is a place but it’s basically chopped up cucumbers, onions, cilantro, tomatoes with lemon and oil or vinegar. It’s delicious. Like salsa but not.

A funny story that we constantly remind Joon of: Yogurt is called mast. So if you have yogurt with cucumbers it’s called mast o khiyar but Joon, being a little girl with few words, once called it “mast o sham sheer” which translates to “yogurt with swords.” We all think that’s a way better name for it so that is what we call it to this day! MAST O SHAM SHEER FOREVER!

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Tuesday Night Chaharshanbe Suri

It was a dark and stormy night. Actually it was barely even drizzling but the thought of trekking to the beach fire pits for the annual jumping-over-fire event (aka Chaharshanbe Suri) seemed like way too much work for us pansy-ass Californians. Weather in general freaks us out. Hours of mindless traffic, whatever! But a slight drizzle is cause for alarm.

So we bought some coals and some Persian take-out from our local International market and called up Grandma Pedram. It had been one of those rough-around-the-edges kind of day and a little Tuesday night family visiting would do us some good. Of course the kids were bummed because a little drizzle (or wild horses) couldn’t keep them away from the beach. They sulked in the car and stuck their noses in their phones, playing data-free games while Payam and I cursed at the usual Tuesday night traffic. charsanbehsouri-2018-1

When we got to Grandma’s, Uncle Ramin had already gotten a small barbecue ready for us. This was something new for everyone, making fires at home! Fire! Fire!  It was novel and even the phone-addled girls started to catch on to the excitement while Grandma stayed inside nice and warm peering through the sliding glass door.

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After the fire was going in the small barbecue, Payam took some tin foil and made seven small fires. It took a bit of coaxing to get them going. He worked on that while the rest of us chowed down on our Persian take-out inside. When the fires were good and lit, the kids came out and we started the “jumping festival”.

Jumping over fires is thought to be a way to say goodbye to the bad of last year and hello to the good of this year. I’m all for that! Uncle Ramin taught us how to say “Give me your beautiful red color and take back my sickly yellow pallor” in Farsi. Of course I cannot remember how to say it now but it’s relatively easy. The kids made up their own sayings as they jumped over. Bug wished for no allergies and Joon wished for happiness.

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It didn’t really matter what we said or if we had the fire-jumping traditions down just right. We are not practicing Zoastrians and we probably didn’t even get the day right.  Chaharshanbeh Soori* literally translates to the last Wednesday of the New Year so why are we doing it on a Tuesday night?  We discussed that for quite a bit but no one really had a good answer. We were just there for the memories and the family time.  I’m so glad we did it too.

Sometimes you have to push through those rough days when you’d really rather just check out on the couch and let the kids turn their brains into phone-addled mush and put out a little effort because it’s always worth it in the end. Always. Seeing Grandma Pedram smile through the sliding glass door as her grandkids jumped over fire like she probably did as a little girl is something I will always treasure.

*there are so many ways to spell Persian words in English (Pringlish) so forgive my many iterations.