“for the adventuresome home chef, Allahyari offers a world of flavors.”
In mortal danger for his beliefs, Hamed Allahyari and his pregnant girlfriend fled their homeland of Iran, first spending two months in Indonesia and then, after grueling hours long by truck over badly paved back roads and then days crammed aboard a boat another five months on Christmas Island before being granted asylum by the Australian government. Once there, life remained extremely difficult for the young couple who were now parents of two young children, and though Allahyari had been a chef and restauranteur in Iran, no one was interested—or so it seemed—in Persian cuisine.
Unable to find work Allahyari began volunteering at the Resource Center, an organization that provides support, legal advice, and other assistance including meals to refugees and people seeking asylum.
“Every day they feed 250 people a free lunch,” Allahyari writes in the introduction to his cookbook Salamati: Hamed’s Persian Kitchen: Recipes and Stories from Iran to the Other Side of the World. “I started cooking there two days a week, making Persian food for people from all over the world: Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Miramar, Sierra Leone, all kinds of places, and most of them had never tried Persian food before. But when they tried it, they liked it. They talked to me about it, asked me about it, and it made me happy.”
At the recommendation of others, Allahyari also began teaching cooking classes, demonstrating how to make such dishes as Zeytoon Parvadrah (Olive and Walnuts Chunky Dip), Abdoogh Khiar, Yogurt and Cucumber soup, Sabzi Pofow Ba Mahi (Fish with Herb Pilaf), and Persian Love Cake. Over the years, Allahyari taught more than 2500 people how to make Persian food. Now, he caters and is chef/owner of SalamiTea, a restaurant located in Sunshine, an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Melbourne. The name is a play on “salamati,” the Persian word meaning both “health” and “cheers.”
Salamati is more than just a cookbook, it’s also a memoir and homage to the country he had to flee. The introduction to the featured recipes in his book might offer a personal connection to the dish, a description of a unique ingredient that helps define it and bring out its best flavors—though he also offers a substitute for such items as Persian dried limes, which might be difficult to locate outside of a major city, and/or puts the food in context with the scenes to Iran.
“This dish is traditionally served in Iranian shisha shops, the cafes where older men gather to smoke water pipes, drink tea and solve the problems of the world,” he writes about Ghahve Khunee Omelette (Street-Food Tomato Omelette). “Shisha shops don’t really serve food but inevitably people get hungry while they’re hanging around, so it’s become traditional for staff to whip up a quick tomato omelette for customers and serve it with bread, raw red onion, herbs and lemon. If you want one, all you ask for is ‘omelette.’ There’s no menu as such.”
Not all the recipes are easy but for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, there are enough simple ones to get started. Full-color photos of each recipe show what the finished product will look like. And for the adventuresome home chef, Allahyari offers a world of flavors.
Born in the United Kingdom, Tony Burton, a Cambridge University-educated geographer with a teaching certificate from University of London, first traveled to Mexico after spending three years as a VSO [Voluntary Service Overseas] volunteer teaching geography, and writing a local geography text, on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. From there his travels took him to Mérida in summer 1977, where he spent several weeks backpacking around southern and central Mexico, returning two years later to teach at Greengates School in Mexico City.
Over the next seven years, Tony traveled extensively throughout Mexico, visiting every state at least once, and organizing numerous four-day earth science fieldwork courses for his students. He co-led the school’s extensive aid efforts following the massive 1985 earthquake.
From Mexico City, he moved to Guadalajara, where he continued to organize short, residential fieldwork courses for a number of different schools and colleges and began organizing and leading specialist eco-tours for adult groups to destinations such as Paricutín Volcano, the monarch butterfly sanctuaries, and Copper Canyon.
An award winning author, he’s written numerous books about Mexico including his latest Lake Chapala: A Postcard History(Sombrero Publishing). It’s part of a series he’s written on this region which is located about an hour south of Guadalajara. The 417-square-mile lake, Mexico’s largest, located in the states of Jalisco and Michoacán is situated at an elevation of 5,000ft in the middle of the Volcanic Axis of Mexico and is known for its wonderful climate, laid-back ambience, and is a popular destination for both travelers and ex-pats looking for a charming, low-key place to relocate. The three main towns along the lake are Chapala,Ajijic and Jocotepec. In an intriguing aside, Tony met his wife Gwen Chan Burton when she was working as at the director of the pioneering Lakeside School for the Deaf in Jocotepec. Gwen writes about the school and all that it has accomplished in her book, New Worlds for the Deaf, also published by Sombrero Books.
Because I’m always interested in foodways, Tony was kind enough to share a copy of an undated Spanish language project put together by students from the Instituto Politécnico Nacional School of Tourism titled “Gastronomy of Jalisco.” It includes numerous recipes from the region including one for the famous Caldo Michi of Chapala (the recipe is below).
I had the chance to ask Tony, who currently is the editor of MexConnect, Mexico’s leading independent on-line magazine, aboutLake Chapala: A Postcard History as well as the time he spent in this beautiful region of Mexico.
How did you first become familiar with Lake Chapala?
I first visited Lake Chapala in early 1980, on my way back to Mexico City from the Copper Canyon and Baja California Sur. Little did I imagine then that it would be where I would later fall in love, get married, and have two children!
What inspired you to write Lake Chapala: A Postcard History?
There is no single overwhelming inspiration. I realized, while living at Lake Chapala and writing my first books about Mexico, that a lot of what had been previously written was superficial and left many unanswered questions. In the hopes of finding answers, I decided to trawl through all the published works (any language) I could find, which resulted in Lake Chapala Through the Ages (2008), my attempt to document and provide context to the accounts of the area written between 1530 and 1910.
Lake Chapala: APostcard History is my attempt to widen the discussion and summarize the twentieth century history of the entire lake area. Its reliance on vintage postcards makes this a very visual story, one which I hope will appeal to a wide readership, including armchair travelers.
What were some of the challenges you encountered in writing this book? Was it difficulty finding the numerous postcards you included? And doing the extensive research that went into the book? Are there any intriguing stories about hunting down certain postcards and any “aha” moments of discovery when writing your book?
The main challenge was in deciding how best to structure the material. Because of the originality of what I’m doing, it is impractical to follow the advice that writers should start with a detailed plan and then write to that plan! In my case, after collecting the information and ideas that exist, the challenge is to select what can be teased and massaged into a coherent and interesting narrative.
Because the postcard book is the product of decades of research, I had ample time to build my personal collection of vintage postcards, through gifts, auctions and online purchases.
There were many significant “aha” moments in the process: some concerned the photographers and publishers responsible for the postcards and some the precise buildings or events depicted. While I’m saving some of these “aha” moments–because they are central to a future book–one was when it suddenly dawned on me that wealthy businessman Dwight Furness was the photographer of an entire series of cards (Figs 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, etc.) that relate to my next response.
If you could go back in time to visit one of the resorts that is no longer there that you featured in your book, is there one that stands out and why is that?
Ooohhh; I’d love to go back to about 1908 and stay at the Ribera Castellanos resort (Chapter 6) during its heyday. While staying there, perhaps I could interview owner Dwight Furness, his wife and a few guests? Apart from a few ruined walls, Furness’ postcards of the resort are pretty much the only remaining evidence of the hotel. And perhaps one night I could invite local resident and prolific professional photographer Winfield Scott and his wife to dinner to hear their stories?
How long did it take to write Lake Chapala?
The writing took less than a year; but only because of the many prior years of research.
Since I often talk about food and travel, are there any culinary specialties in the Lake Chapala region?
Long standing culinary specialties of the area include (a) Lake Chapala whitefish (b) charales (c) caldo michi. And, when it comes to drinks, there is a very specific link to postcards. The wife of photographer José Edmundo Sánchez, who sold postcards ( Figs 7.5, 7.6 and 7.7) in the 1920s from his lakefront bar in Chapala, is credited with inventing sangrita, still marketed today as a very popular chaser or co-sip for tequila. (Chapter 7, page 74).
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about your book?
I hope readers find the book as fun and interesting to read as it was to write!
2 tablespoons corn oil
¾ kg of tomato seeded and in pieces
¼ onion in pieces
½ kg carrot, peeled and cut into diagonal slices
½ kg of sliced zucchini
4 or 6 chiles güeros
100 gr. chopped coriander
2 sprigs of fresh oregano
Salt to taste
2 ½ liters of water
1kg well washed catfish, yellow carp or red snapper
PREPARATION: Heat the oil and stew the vegetables in it, add water and salt to taste, let it simmer over low heat until the vegetables are well cooked, then add the fish and leave it for a few minutes more until it is soft.
I had the opportunity to stay at Tres Rios Nature Park, a 326-acre eco-resort north of Playa del Carmen and was first introduced to sangrita during my stay. I took several cooking lessons and learned to make a dish with crickets, but that is a different story. Chef Oscar also talked to us about the history of sangrita. The Spanish name is the less-than-appetizing “little blood” but hey, when you’re learning to grill crickets, you can deal with a name like that. The drink, as Tony writes in his postcards book, originated in Chapala in the 1920s.
Here is the excerpt:
”In the same year the Railroad Station opened, Guillermo de Alba had become a partner in Pavilion Monterrey, a lakefront bar in a prime location, only meters from the beach, between the Hotel Arzapalo and Casa Braniff,” he writes. “The co-owner of the bar was José Edmundo Sánchez. Regulars at the bar included American poet Witter Bynner, who first visited Chapala in 1923 in the company of D H Lawrence and his wife, Frieda. Bynner subsequently bought a house near the church. When de Alba left Chapala for Mexico City in 1926, Sánchez and his wife—María Guadalupe Nuño, credited with inventing sangrita as a chaser for tequila—ran the bar on their own. After her husband died in 1933, María continued to manage the bar, which then became known as the Cantina de la Viuda Sánchez (Widow Sánchez’s bar).”
Sangrita is typically used as accompaniment to tequila, highlighting its crisp acidity and helping to cleanse the palate between each peppery sip. According to Chef Oscar, the red-colored drink serves to compliment the flavor of 100% agave tequila. The two drinks, each poured into separate shot glasses, are alternately sipped, never chased and never mixed together.
Here is Chef Oscar’s recipe and below is one from Cholula hot sauce which originated in Chapala. Tony has a great story about that as well. More in my next post on his books.
For one liter of Sangrita:
400 ml. orange juice
400 ml. tomato juice
50 ml. lemon juice
30 ml. Grenadine syrup
20 ml. Worcestershire sauce
Maggi and Tabasco hot sauce (mixed up) to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix together all the ingredients and serve cold. Suggested duration of chilling : 3 to 4 days.
1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh orange juice
1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
20 pomegranate seeds
3 fresh sprigs of cilantro or to taste
1/2 stalk celery
3 teaspoons smoked coarse sea salt or sal de gusano, divided
1 tablespoon Cholula® Original Hot Sauce
Place all ingredients except salt in blender container, with about 1 cup ice cubes. Puree until smooth.Strain twice though a fine mesh sieve, discarding any solids.
Rim shot glasses with sea salt. Serve sangrita cold in rimmed shot glasses alongside your favorite tequila.
Fall lingers a bit longer in Virginia giving us more time to enjoy the beauty of the season. And those looking for the great escape certainly linger longer at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia. Maybe it’s because the resort is on 2,900 acres (that’s a lot of fall foliage) of land, or that it’s the only resort in Williamsburg on the fabled James River with sweeping views of the water, or the championship golf, million-dollar spa and massive indoor heated swimming pool. Of course, there’s seemingly endless bike and walking trails, tennis courts and dining options.
Fall also means special value-added savings, packages and programming celebrating harvests, culture, Halloween and Thanksgiving.
The AAA Four Diamond Kingsmill Resort is also well known for having “living room,” as in many of the accommodations feature one, two and three bedrooms and two baths with a living room, kitchen, dining area and even a washer and dryer. It’s ideal for families, couples and friends get-away.
And while many guests are content to stay within the resort, just outside its gates are all the attractions and experiences Williamsburg is famous for such as the scenic drives on the Colonial Parkway to Jamestown Island, or hiking/walking on the short trails of the coastal estuary at York River State Park.
On Saturday through December 18, guests can enjoy the Williamsburg Farmers Market and sample the regions famous farm products, produce, baked goods and even pick up some arts and crafts.
On Water: Rent a pontoon, paddle board, kayak or jet ski at Kingsmill’s marina to see the magnificent colors along the James River.
There is nothing more “fall” than pumpkins. And in Williamsburg, guests will discover Pumpkinville where one can choose one from a family farm or shop for seasonal specialties such as gourds, winter squash, and fall flowers and decorations. There’s even a corn maze for those that like to wander.
In a land as ancient as this (by US standards) there are certain to be super-natural experiences. Haunted houses, ghost walks and spooky carriage rides abound. You can be truly pushed to your scared limits at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream or just be mildly spooked on a one-hour candlelit tour of old Williamsburg.
The country’s first documented Thanksgiving was here as well, at Berkley Plantation to be exact (two years before the Pilgrims event in Massachusetts). The first settlers celebrated “a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God,” and ate after fasting. Each year, you can celebrate the event with a living history program, tribal Native American dancers, arts and crafts, and choral music. Kingsmill Resort also offers a major Thanksgiving dinner (go to http://www.kingsmill.com for details).
Hikes, fly fishing, falconry, all-inclusive wilderness retreats, and a view from the top of America’s mountain, no one does Western fall wonder and adventure like The Broadmoor. Here are a variety of different ways (water, air and on top of a mountain) to enjoy those autumn golden aspens that everyone is talking about.
Fall fun by water: Get your boots wet with some Colorado fly fishing.
The Broadmoor’s all-inclusive Wilderness Properties such as Fly Fishing Camp are where fall colors and adventure combine.
The Broadmoor’s Soaring Adventures. Enjoy the tree tops and fresh autumn air with a zip lining experience in the mountains. For more reasons to look up, take advantage of The Broadmoor’s falconry experience which allows the unique opportunity for an up-close encounter with the resort’s majestic birds of prey plus the opportunity to watch them in flight.
What’s better than a view from the top? America’s highest railway reaching a height of 14,115 feet offers stunning Colorado mountain views and some of the country’s best fall foliage landscapes.
Cape May, NJ is one of the most underrated beach towns in America.
This charming seaside getaway offers the perfect beach town trip any time of year. Fall is a great time to beat the crowds and enjoy the award-winning beaches, cozy fireplaces, exquisite farm to table dining, and amazing small-town amenities including exploring this Victorian town by foot or bike and enjoying family-friendly fun and shopping. Plus families will also enjoy visiting Beach Plum Farm during harvest season to enjoy a mix of summer and a preview to fall.
Set on 62 acres less than two miles away from the center of Cape May, Beach Plum Farm is a family favorite and provides ingredients to several local restaurants, including the award-winning Ebbitt Room. The farm provides many of the seasonal ingredients used in the delicious food served at Congress Hall, its restaurants and sister properties! Kids love feeding the chickens and exploring the acres of gardens and fields. Cape May is also home to Congress Hall, America’s oldest seaside resort. Check out caperesorts.com
Sag Harbor & Shelter Island (Hamptons / Eastern Long Island)
Grab a classic novel and head to Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor, NY. Rich in literary history (the hotel was a favorite of John Steinbeck), this classic all-American hotel sits in one of the best spots in Sag overlooking the harbor making its porch and pool the perfect spot to curl up with a book and enjoy the autumn harbor breezes. Bonus: enjoy some of the East End’s freshest dock to dish dining. Baron’s Cove’s culinary team works closely with local farmers, purveyors, and fishing boats and can name the captain and boat that the restaurant’s daily fish came off of that morning. Baron’s Cove is also one of the few places in town that offers live music every night during the summer and Wednesday through Sunday in the fall.
Over on Shelter Island, NY, Baron’s Cove’s sister property, The Pridwin Hotel & Cottages, recently reopened its doors after a two-year renovation (recently as in, the ribbon cutting took place mid-July!) Another waterfront property, The Pridwin offers travelers the best of both worlds: the vibes of a luxury lake/adult summer camp getaway with the thrill of the beach (it has its own private beach steps from the hotel). Guests may also take advantage of water sports activities, sunset sailing, private luxury yacht experiences and also the resort’s very own kayaking and paddle boarding. Guests also have the extra perk of fishing off of the resort’s dock.
Heading into the cooler weather, The Pridwin will continue to offer several family friendly programming throughout the fall including lawn games, arts & crafts, live music, kids cooking classes, nature walks, hiking in Mashomack; farm tours with local Sylvester Manor Farm; plus yoga on the lawn programming for children.
Our community has been using their skills and creativity to pivot, fill food system gaps, and serve Hawaiʻi’s nutritional needs during this unprecedented time.
Through thoughtful interviews and photographic portraiture, we spotlight the necessity of a collective commitment needed to sustain our emerging system of resiliency, of a self-sufficient Hawaiʻi. From Feeding Hawai’i.