A FARMHOUSE IN NORWAY, WANDERING VS. NESTING AND RØMMEGRØT, A SOURCREAM PORRIDGE

PROLOGUE

As the holiday season ends in Italy, I suddenly had the feeling that I need to get away from here. This is not because of what I am not appreciating at the moment, but rather an attempt to remember, and cherish what I do love about Italy. I don’t often forget it, but distance is crucial for perspective.

Then I remembered last summer, when I spent almost a month in Norway, and how towards the end I missed everything about Italy so much that I couldn’t wait to be back. This is a recap of that journey. Memories and recipes that I wrote down a year ago, and a reflection on travel vs. nesting that I came upon this summer.

Some useful info: The photos from the post are almost entirely from the town of Ænes, in the west of Norway and not from Bergen and Trolltunga.
I found the farmhouse on Helpx, but they also rent one apartment in the farmhouse and a cabin at the shore. More details here.
Summer-in-Norway-Saghar-Setareh-Lab-Noon-21-1

I. ON GOING FAR, AND ON STAYING

Travel is wonderous. Educational. Life-changing. Essential. Travel, especially when solo, works like a hidden mirror, with scattered fragments on the roads and train tracks and airports, that reflect our true faces. In travel we learn the way to ourselves. In the habits and food and sceneries so unfamiliar to our home, we discover, and appreciate where we come from.

But this story about traveling to the (somehow) far north, where the water is gelid and the sky a different blue, is actually a homage to staying. To simply being, where one is. Observing. Maybe in silence, but most importantly, in peace, with oneself. For there needs as much self awareness to stay, as to go. 

Going is many things. It’s outside of us. The arrangements, the finance, the encounters, the novelties, the discomfort, the wonder. The tiredness, and being happy about it. The falling dead asleep. Going is often the answer, when staying is not an option. Or merely unbearable. Sometimes going is a manifestation of freedom. Other times it’s a mobile imprisonment to what we can’t handle in sedentariness. 

Staying, on the other hand, is not necessarily a form of idleness. It is not always static. Staying, observing, being present and being content, peaceful and even grateful about it, is something of a miracle at our fast paced, crazy time. Where every moment there is something to do, errands to run, a space to fill, a conversation to speak, even an idea of a long solitude is something to be feared. For years I had been told that solitude is the dimension that enables us to relate to others. Never had I quite realized it until now.

I am, by all means, what they call a lone wolf. I live alone. I often work alone. I travel alone. Many times I go to restaurants alone. I do my shopping alone, I organize my everything completely and solely on my own. Most of the places I have ever traveled to, I have seen alone. It’s my thing. I am comfortable with it. Many times I don’t even think about it. It’s my way, my life. I live it as it is. It has not always been my willing choice to do all this alone, but I have anyway. And I know, at the age of 34, that this fact does not mean that I am alone. I’m not. I have many good friends, many near, a lot around the world, and an (almost) loving family who cares about me from afar, in its own imperfect way. 

This summer, I ended up staying. Not entirely out of my own decision, but due to circumstances. And for the first time, in 34 years of my life, I discovered what it feels like to just, happily, be. This however, is the story of summer of last year, where I chose the roads, the cold and the movement.

Summer-in-Norway-Saghar-Setareh-Lab-Noon

II. THE MOUNTAINS, THE FORESTS, THE SEA

Among the green mountains covered with clouds, and that cold dark grey water of the fiords, it would have been so hard not to feel blue as I left the farmhouse that had been my home for the previous three weeks.

This Norway trip, although long planned and even longer fantasised about, has been surprising in all its predictability so far. The desire for it was born exactly a year before as I was boiling away in the exhausting August of Rome and I watched Marta’s journey towards north. By April, everything was planned and I knew where I was going. The rest was just logistics.

Summer-in-Norway-Saghar-Setareh-Lab-Noon

I wanted to be surrounded by nature and in touch with earth. And that I did. I learned to feed and milk goats, fight goats and capture runaway goats. Hold them by the horn and drag them back behind their fence. I fed and polished a horse (didn’t ride her though. Hrafna looked too old and frail to be able to handle my weight, or anyone’s, really.) I cleaned her stable, put her stinky, shit in the wheelbarrow and took it to the poop hill where organic fertilisers came to being. I weeded the strawberry garden, the leek patch and all cabbages, roses, berries and in between.

I collected unlimited fresh raspberries, blueberries and red currants. But most satisfying was indeed collecting fresh eggs from the chickens and have epic breakfast with soft boiled eggs every morning. I think I would have never got tired of that. I learned that with super fresh eggs, you can’t count so much on peeling the shell, but you should cut through the egg — with the shell and all — with the knife. You should place the egg strategically above your toast which must be already buttered, lying on your plate, waiting to suck in all that shiny red yolk in. Have a little spoon at hand so that you can scoop all the egg white left in the shelf onto your bread. Sprinkle salt. Wolf it down. With a big mug of coffee (bleeeaah, been missing real espresso or moka since day one).

I walked and hiked in jaw dropping beautiful nature. Intact, wild, respected but most strikingly, silent. Norway is not huge, but it’s vast for its 5 million population. The Norwegians seem to have been very influenced by its rainy, cold weather for generations. When travelling on the bus from the farmhouse to Bergen, I was thinking no wonder the country is so quiet and with no conflicts. Small population, enormous resources, away from even the biggest world conflicts, (although they were involved in WWII, occupied rapidly and brutally by the Nazi Germans). 

In my experience, as long as you looked enough like them and you were close enough to them on the map, they got along quite easily. White, blonde, northern European. The further away from that imaginary, the more it feels as if you’re being watched, and questioned, not unlike a bizarre creature in a zoo! Very politely, and often prejudicially, but nonetheless like an animal in a zoo. 

I arrived to Norway, with a long infected old wound, that I kept scratching. Masochistically watching it bleed little drops of bitter blood, and never having a chance to heal. The salty air of the fiords, and something about the spirit of novelty, and the desire to free myself from a useless burden, made me realize it was time I found a cure for this wound.

So among the fog-caped green mountains, wild rivers with musky rocks in the middle and dark, troll-roaming forests, I tore away that fake golden locket of painful glory off my heart. It continued to hurt for a long time, but not as much as before. It got better. With time, it healed. It always does. I might bear that burn mark scar, but I will never forget that feeling of being alive again on the top of breathtaking Norwegian mountains.

Then I hiked for 26 kilometres to see a “troll’s tongue” (Trolltunga). I walked the pain away, and jumped into the cold fiord the next day to freeze its memory forever in my head.

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Persian Cooking Class, Spring Edition: Easter & Norouz, March 17th

lezione di cucina persiana per pasqua - persian cooking lesson RomeThe arrival of March is means Spring is just a few steps away. Although we’re still partly covered under snow and and it still feels quite wintery, it’s time to ready for Norouz, the Persian new year celebrated on Spring equinox, followed shortly after by Easter

Spring celebration food everywhere is the new seasonal greens and celebration of growth.

Although the classic Persian dish to celebrate Norouz is Sabzi Polo ba MahiPersian herby pilaf served with fish — there are also other dishes that are prepared with fresh produce of Spring.

lezione di cucina persiana per pasqua - persian cooking lesson RomeThis Persian feast menù is completely green in color in honour of Spring celebrations. There’s Kuku SabziPersian herby frittata — that is a classic Norouz dish in Tehran. Then there will be Baghali Polo — Persian pilaf with fava beans and lots of dill — that will be served with lamb shanks, cooked with saffron and turmeric. These dishes and the rest of the Menù are Persian inspirations that can brighten up your Easter lunch/brunch for a feast with a middle eastern flavor.

When

Saturday March 17th, at 10 am

Where

Latteria Studio

Via di Ponziano 29, 00152, Rome (Trastevere) Continue reading

SOLD OUT! Persian Cooking Lesson, Christmas Edition, December 2nd

Persian Cooking Class in Rome

Your response to my debut Persian cooking class at Latteria Studio has been incredible! The class sold out in less than a week. And since there were so many of you that were interested, I decided to add a new date for another Persian Cooking Class, with a slightly different menù for the festive Season. The Christmas Edition features pomegranates, pistachios, almonds and walnuts, festivity favorites in the west, and celebration food in Iran.

Please join me on Saturday morning on December 2nd, to chat, talk about the basics of Persian cooking, getting in the mood for Christmas and get our hands busy chopping, cutting, braising and stewing.

Persian Cooking Class in Rome
Persian Cooking Class in Rome

When

Saturday December 2nd, at 10 am

Where

Latteria Studio

Via di Ponziano 29, 00152, Rome (Trastevere)

Cost

€79 per person

SOLD OUT

includes cooking lesson, four course lunch, wine and water

Booking

This class has been sold out. Booking is no longer possibile. For priority booking for future courses, write to info{at}labnoo.com.

Menu

To start

Persian Cheese Platter with herbs (vegetarian)

Main Courses

Tah-chin Kadoo: Persian rice cake with pumpkin and caramelised onions (vegetarian)

Fried dates Frittata

Persian Jeweled rice with pistachios, almonds, barberries and candied orange zest (vegan)

Festive Saffron Chicken with Pomegranates and Walnuts

Sides

Mint and Pomegranate salad

Dessert

Persian Love Cake with roses and pistachios

served with cardamom tea

For any other info or details don’t hesitate to contact me! You can find and share content about this cooking class at #PersianCookingClassRome. Continue reading