Follow us as we bring you a series of posts on Persian Love Stories.
It seems like forever ago I was introduced to the joy of Persian cuisine… and so my love affair began. Not only did I fall in love with the food, but for everything around it, including the man I married.
One of the earliest memories I have of a Persian dinner party with Shary was going to his flat with some of his friends, where we all stood around the kitchen eagerly waiting for him to serve up the dishes he had made. The aroma that travelled through the apartment was truly unbelievable… I can almost still smell it now. We all sat together and enjoyed the scrumptious meal – it was just one of my most memorable experiences. At that point, sat there listening to the joy and laughter brought together around the food, I knew it was always going to be my way of life too.
From the start Shary’s family welcomed me with open arms and through the years, and two children (and nieces and nephews) later, we have shared so much. We always cherish family time around the table with delicious Persian meals, or playing backgammon while drinking chai tea. Shary’s mum used to have the most amazing parties, which based around food that was totally out of this world. I would sit and watch her, fascinated by the different techniques she used to create such interesting dishes and how her passion for cooking was infused in to each and every plate of food. She would then go and getting ready for her guests, ready to be the hostess with the mostest… she really was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen.
And we too have tried to embrace this sense of celebration around food that comes with the Persian heritage. From picnics to birthday parties, requests from the children’s friends to Christmas gatherings, it’s always present. My mum, aka ‘The Nana’, eats nothing else! Every week she receives her meal packs from Shary, and at 86 enjoys the different flavours, devouring every bite. The love for Persian cooking has truly rubbed off onto everyone around us, especially with my sister Shirl who’s an avid fan and very keen cook – she really does make a fab Fesenjan. Last year when Nat and Tom got married, Shirl wrote an ode to read through the ceremony that even mentioned Persian rice! You may say as a family we are a little obsessed… but it’s more of a total passion for Shary’s heritage and the deliciousness that comes with that.
Although I am bias, I truly do have the best teacher in Shary. Over the years I have been lucky enough to not only soak up knowledge about Persian cuisine, but tips from an award winning chef. This has allowed me to understand my own passions, where I feel like I have a true love for desserts, taking traditional flavours and making my own sweet treats, often including Persian ingredients, for friends and family to enjoy.
Really, life doesn’t get any better than when your sharing and for me the best way to do this is sat around the table with my family enjoying all the culinary delights that Persia has to offer. Over forty years since that first delicious dinner, Shary doesn’t know this, but he ‘had me at tahdig’.
Favourite dish: Shahmirzadi Polo (but only Mummy Azami’s!)