–submitted by Joyce Bromley; photos by Ted & Joan Ballweg
Who could not use some Nowruz (celebration of spring and annual renewal)? Majid Sarmadi brought the rich Iranian new year celebration to the Cultural Awareness Fellowship Group and their guests in this year of 2595. This 3000 year Persian tradition is a celebration of renewal and hope with prepared foods that represent the seven angelic heralds. Hyacinth (one of the first flowers of spring) brings beauty and its fragrance permeated the room. The eloquently set table was a sight to behold. Garlic bulbs decorated with a string of tiny pearls bring good health; vinegar takes a long time to make and requires patience; a beautiful tureen of sprouts (lentils) prosperity—good harvest and a year without hunger; elaborately decorated eggs promise fertility–rebirth; goldfish swimming in a bowl, a symbol of life; the illumination of candle-light brings happiness—good over evil; fresh fruit and sweets bring joy; and we ended with a taste of ground sweet sumac. A book of poetry lay open reminding us of the eloquent Persian language. This was the experience of haft sin and only the beginning of the evening.
After an enthralling slide show of Iran–the culture, the geography, and its people—we traveled the gastronomic route. Appetizers of eggplant paté, and hummus; a table display of basmati rice with saffron, casserole of assorted beans, braised eggplant with filet mignon; saffron chicken; and basmati rice with lima beans and dill—all of which were as sumptuous as they were beautiful. All of these delicacies were entirely prepared by Majid. Oh yes, the desserts! Cream puffs (made earlier in the day), fresh fruit, rice-flour cookies, cardamom muffins, sohan (almond toffee), were enjoyed with a cup of tea. At the end of the evening Majid gave us a gift to extend the evening. We each received a freshly pressed one-dollar bill for good luck.
We became Majid’s extended family and together we celebrated the joy of friendship in the Persian tradition and are richer for the experience.