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

The Layoff, A Praise to Creative Work & Gradara Workshop Recap

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Read Betty’s recap post about Gradara Workshop here | Read Zaira’s recap post here | Valentina’s post coming soon. | My recap starts at point 2 of this post.

I. The Gentle Layoff or a Note to Self

After the huge ups and downs that started in my life last year, early this Spring, it started to feel more steady, workwise speaking. After a six month internship in an startup office, I was hired as the content manager; I’ve worked on the blog and the social media of an interior design website. An exciting adventure and a very full time job, that demanded for almost all of my energy.
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However the euphoria of the new job did not last long. Soon I started feeling restless, as what I did, although thrilling, was not much creative. I started missing working in the the creative/artistic/culinary world. 

Now that I look back to the end of July, I can see clearly how attending the Gradara Workshop —hosted by talented ladies Betty, Zaira and Valentina— was a turning point. I had never met these girls in person, and it was my first time at Valentina’s home, but somehow I felt at ease with whatever was going on, things came naturally to me, I was at the right place at the right time. 

As I came back to Rome, I started to feel uneasier every day at work. I tried to remain focused at my deskjob but I felt out of breath as I dreamed about cooking, shooting and creating something instead of organizing documents. 
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At a certain point, on September 1st when I woke up in the morning, I looked at the rays of the early sun outside the window, then sat on the bed and… started to cry! The mere idea of going back to that office for a long, indefinite time made me feel plain miserable.

Later when I was washing the breakfast dishes, all I could think about was the need for a big change, a revolution.

The big change arrived some hours later. On that same day, I was, very nicely, laid off.

And, odd as it may sound, I felt relieved! I felt that my chance had come, I could do whatever I wanted. This is an opportunity. Now I can dive back into creative work and start anew! 

It wrote these words down immidiately, in order to record my precise intinctive reaction to this apparently bad news; down at the bottom of my guts I was feeling lighter, content and not worried at all. 

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That night I went to bed quite late. The subconscious did its dirty job. I jetted awake, very early, feeling quite anxious.

So, I left This note to remind myself to trust my instinct. To remember, always, what my reaction was to this. To know that I can do better. This is not some self-helping acknowledgin or inspirational note. It’s what it is. 

Do not forget it. Do not forget how miserable you felt on the morning of September 1st, thinking about going to office, and how things lightened up and how you sincerely smiled, after many days, when on early evening of the very same September 1st, you were fired.”

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Here I also inform you officially that as of October 1st, I’m available fulltime for jobs for Photography, blogging, cooking lessons, workshops and graphic design, food tours in Rome/Italy and recipe developing for brands and editorial products.

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No better moment than this to finally publish this memoirs of three days of pure creativity with like-minded people, with a touch of magic that only true passion at heart and crafty hands can bring to life.

2. The Gradara Workshop, The Italian Riviera, July 2016

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It was Summer time at its peak. The Italian riviera, where Valentina lives, was hot, humid and adorable.

I got on a train from Rome’s Termini station that took me towards north one day before the workshop. There, in the station of Cattolica Valentina, Zaira and Betty were waiting for me. Though it was the first time we met, we clicked immediately; we shared the stories of our lives and a laughter or two.

That evening we had the best piadina (Italian authentic flatbread from the Romagna region, wrapped around cold cuts, cheese and vegetables), somewhere looking over the sea. A simple, incredibly convenient dinner that represented the charm of local Italian regional gastronomy at its best.

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On Friday, we harvested and arranged flowers, wrapped the gifts for the attendee (incredibly gorgeous looking Raku ceramic bowls by Freaky Raku), froze peaches for the welcome drink. Betty, Zaira and Valentina went through their keynotes and slides.

By the times the attendees arrived to the garden of the Solfrinis, the sun was low, and our beautifully styled Summer table was decorated with fresh fruit, crystal glasses, roses and flowers from the countryside and olive branches.

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We were a group of talented, sensible women from all walks of life, different religions, and three different continents; In a moment where the world is being teared apart by hatred and fear, we gathered around from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Canada, Croatia, Turkey, Lebanon, Kuwait and Iran and celebrated our similarities, while each expressing uniqueness through our personal stories.   Continue reading

An Afghan Cooking Workshop & Healthy Baked Samosa

Baked Samosa, Samosa al Forno, سمبوسه رژیمی

It is no secret that food and family traditions play a huge role in Italian culture. Big family meals for Sunday lunch and grandmas and moms cooking for the whole family. Wherever there’s a good ragù (the Italian famous meat sauce), it smells like home, yet no ragù is ever comparable with the one mom makes or the one that granny used to make. It usually looks like this; a big table with the whole family sitting around it, meals start at about noon and people leave the table at about 4 or 5 in the afternoon. Children and cousins play around the table, there’s a lot of noise, a lot of delicious smells and of course a lot of heavenly tasty food. Most of the times you can add the rays of sun light making their way through white window curtains to this poetic picture. And there’s of course wine, shining like pieces of ruby in each glass. This authentic picture (plus the dead delicious food) is indeed one of the reasons the Italian culinary culture has come to be celebrated all over the world. What is less known though, is that family meals and more specifically cooking for the family, has the same significant role in many other cultures too; of course things change regarding traditions of each place. but the taste of the traditional food cooked by a mom, has carved our souls in one way or another; some times it’s a picture of Tortellini in Brodo, some times it’s Fried Chicken, other times it’s Ghormeh-Sabzi or Kabuli Paowlo. But no matter the name or the shape, the smell and the taste of a traditional meal we’ve grown up with, can take us all back… home.

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In our multi-ethnical world there are more and more people like me who have left their homeland for one reason or another. Naturally it’s always a pleasure to have an opportunity to recreate the home sensation through cooking and sharing meals. It’s healthy and inevitable that the traditional food of one place cooked in another goes through some changes, of which the slightest would be the atmosphere or simply the weather in which that food is usually eaten. Other times some ingredients also need to be revisited, whether they’re difficult to find or not considered quite palatable in the new place. But all of this won’t matter if only one factor remains the same: sharing that meal with other people. Cooking and wanting to share your food with other people means one is capable of love, and what is more associated with home than love?

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Photo by Frontiere News

On 26th April, a very cloudy-turned-rainy Saturday, I had the pleasure to meet Shadam, 27, who is born in Afghanistan, lived for a while in Pakistan, then started his road trip to Europe in 2008, crossing many countries of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It took him 2 years to arrive in Italy, where he decided to stay. Here in Rome with the help of intercultural associations such as Frontiere News and Binario15, Shadam organizes Afghan suppers for charity, Afghan cooking workshops and Afghan dance lessons. He also works in Italian restaurants and silk screen print publishing house. Our cooking workshop took place in a beautiful agritourism farm called La Volpe e l’Uva in the province of Latina, in the region of Lazio. We were about 12 people and we cooked together Afghan Samosas, Kabuli Pulao (Afghan Rice), lentils and Okra (ladies’ fingers). We were enchanted by the smell of turmeric, saffron and other spices. I imagine how exotic it all looked like for Italian friends present, to me naturally, coming from Iran and sharing borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, there weren’t many surprises in the smells and tastes. Rather I could’ve let myself go in nostalgia for home, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to lose the chance to hear Shadam’s story and watch him knead the dough for Samosa and add the spices to chicken pieces. We all watched him in wonder and listened to him carefully. He told us that in Afghanistan men rarely step in the kitchen and it’s women who always cook at home. But for events like weddings (where celebrations are held for several days) only men cook, and that’s where he has found his interest for cooking. We chopped, kneaded and diced while clouds got darker and denser, and when they finally broke down into a heavy spring shower, we sat at the table to eat our Afghan lunch; hearty, spicy and colorful. I looked at Shadam’s face and I could tell he was satisfied, not just with the good food, but also with the good company. People who were gathered by curiosity and –no doubt– the love for food, sat at a long table, and shared opinions, thoughts and food. The food from his homeland, the home that he had deserted. Who knows, maybe that day at that table, it did feel a little like home after all for Shadam.

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