Little did I know I was in for more than I bargained for! Why is it everywhere we go people feel the need to test their strength with me? When we were in Lebanon, I had a security guard arm wrestle me on the bonnet of a stranger’s car, which ended up with him having a very bruised hand and a huge dint in the bonnet! In Iran… well, they take things a little more seriously. I don't think I have to tell you what happened next, but it made me wet myself with laughter. I ended up spending most of the afternoon with the pastry chefs in the pashmak shop and ate way too much sugar. I was bouncing off walls and the crew paid for it! Sorry guys, my bad.
Making pashmak is a complex process. How on earth did they think of making this all those years ago? Absolutely beautiful. Hands down, the best damn fairy floss I’ve ever eaten. So buttery, so light – a real eye opener. Loved it!
The second part of this story comes to you in the form of one of the most prized food commodities on earth and another Persian treasure I ‘ve always longed to know more about – saffron!
So we arrived to this dry field of dirt, where a man with hands of stone and a face that tells a million stories stood waiting for us. I had this picture in my mind of arriving to a beautiful field with knee-high purple saffron flowers, where I could skip through the hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of saffron, like one of those cheesy love stories. I had the scene already shot in my mind.
But, no, all I saw was dirt and a man whose hands looked like "Thing" from the Fantastic Four movie. No way could this man hand-pick this delicacy. You need finesse, love and precision. Oh, how I was wrong! After spending some time with him, I learnt that he has been farming saffron his whole life! Back-breaking, tedious work. Every flower hand-picked, every stigma hand harvested and dried. A hard life; up at dawn and working the land until sun down every day. Not the life for me. But surprisingly, he seemed to be totally happy and at peace. He reminded me of my father-in-law, both in his outlook on life and his physical appearance. A simple man full of love for his family and his land, not in a rush to get anywhere but more concerned about the sunset and next week’s harvest. True value to him means getting a few years out of one pair of shoes, not how great they look.
It’s a life I wish I could live, be content with, and entails a true happiness I may never possess. As they say, ignorance is bliss. Never so true as in this case.