Inspiration from Hafiz

by Louisa on May 26, 2015

Hafiz tomb dayThe other day I came across this poem by the 14th century Persian poet Hafiz. The words jumped off the page and all of a sudden I found myself crying. Since then I’ve been rereading it, and the words are never far from my mind. Although it’s abstract and mystical, I find that it accesses something that’s universal and profound. Hm, maybe that’s why Hafiz is still so well loved today.

Man reading at shrine

In the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, where Hafiz lived, his majestic shrine is a favorite tourist destination and a sanctuary for those seeking solace. It’s always buzzing with visitors.

Hafiz shrine sunsetI wasn’t prepared for its beauty, or the feeling of serenity and comfort that it exudes. I didn’t want to leave, I just wanted to stay and soak up the good vibrations. I stayed into the evening, so I got to see it glowing softly at sunset, when for me it became even more magical. Here is the poem, as interpreted by the respected Hafiz translator Daniel Ladinsky.

Your Mother and My Mother, by Hafiz

~

Fear is the cheapest room in the house.

I would like to see you living

In better conditions,

~

For your mother and my mother

Were friends.

~

I know the Innkeeper

In this part of the universe.

Get some rest tonight,

Come to my verse again tomorrow.

We’ll go speak to the Friend together.

~

I should not make any promises right now,

But I know if you

Pray

Somewhere in this world–

Something good will happen.

~

God wants to see

More love and playfulness in your eyes

For that is your greatest witness to Him.

~

Your soul and my soul

Once sat together in the Beloved’s womb

Playing footsie.

~

Your heart and my heart

Are very, very old

Friends.

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My Trip to Iran, One Year Ago Today

by Louisa on May 12, 2015

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A year ago today I traveled to Iran for the first time. It was the realization of a dream I’d had for decades, and it changed my life, as I knew it would.

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The trip still feels like a dream. Most of the Farsi words and expressions that I learned are fading from memory. And the deep, loving connections that I made with people, from the cousin who is like a long lost sister to the young woman guide who bought me a book of Sohrab Sepehri‘s poetry as a gift of friendship, don’t square with the impersonal reality of social interactions in New York. But I know the trip changed me.

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As any Westerner who travels to Iran will tell you, the people of Iran couldn’t be more different than the scary, hostile radicals that are seen chanting Death to America in the movie Argo (don’t get me started on how silly that film is), or in most media depictions. [click to continue…]

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A Persian Dinner to Celebrate Spring, with Meal Sharing on April 9

April 6, 2015
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This Thursday April 9 I’m cooking a dinner, A Persian Meal to Celebrate Spring. I’m doing it through Meal Sharing, a platform for people to experience homemade meals around the world at very affordable prices. The goal is to bring people together around food, rather than make a profit, so the ticket price for the […]

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Two Exciting New Cookbooks, and A Panel on Food & Culture March 31

March 29, 2015
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Two New York food writers of whom I’m a big fan – Cathy Erway and Leah Koenig – just released new cookbooks. This Tuesday March 31, I’ll be on a panel with them talking about what it’s like to take on your own heritage in a cookbook. The panel/book launch party will be hosted by […]

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Our Final Lakh Lakh Dinner, Monday March 23

March 22, 2015
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After seven months of doing Lakh Lakh, my Persian street food pop-up, it’s time to move on to other projects. But before we wrap it up, we’re going out with a bang tomorrow night. For our final dinner, we’re making some of Iran’s best and most famous offal dishes, including kaleh pacheh, sheep’s head and […]

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Get Your Norooz On!

March 15, 2015
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The Persian New Year is coming up this weekend at the spring equinox, and we’re celebrating with a Norooz dinner at Porsena on Monday March 16. Over the last few days we’ve been making handmade noodles, tamarind sauce, beet yogurt with mint, and a delicious tangy curd flavored with limoo omani, dried Omani limes, for […]

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Lakh Lakh Menu for Monday March 9

March 8, 2015
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We are winding down to the very final weeks of Lakh Lakh. It’s been an incredible run, but other projects are calling, so we have to end this month on the 23rd, just after the start of the Persian New Year! We are getting ready for a big Norooz dinner at Porsena on March 16, […]

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Lakh Lakh Menu for Monday March 2

March 1, 2015
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Even though it snowed all afternoon, I know winter is going to end because the spring equinox is three weeks away. With that comes Norooz, the Persian New Year, and I’ll be celebrating with a Norooz dinner at Porsena on March 16. The menu is full of herbs and spring ingredients, including an Azerbaijani smoked […]

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Lakh Lakh Menu for Monday February 23

February 23, 2015
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We’re back tonight to bring you the next installment of Lakh Lakh! With recipes from Gilan Province, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan – Iran’s neighbor to the south. Here’s a piece I wrote for Food52 about the cookbooks that have been inspiring my menus recently. These are all wonderful books about Silk Road cooking and beyond, do […]

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Lakh Lakh Menu for Monday February 9

February 9, 2015
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I got inspiration this week from a fascinating cookbook called The Silk Road Gourmet, Volume One: Western and Southern Asia, by Laura Kelley. It gives an overview of the food of every country between The Republic of Georgia and Sri Lanka, along with several recipes. The book allows you to see how food morphs along […]

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