Unripe Plums & Almonds
During one of my posts I wrote about my love for Gojeh Sabz and how exciting it was for us kids when spring came around back in the days in Iran. That post was solely dedicated to Gojeh Sabz because that’s what I personally like. To tell the truth there was and still is something else that kids and adults look forward to with the arrival of spring. One is my beloved Gojeh Sabz and the other is Chaghaleh badoom, unripe almonds. The almonds during this stage of their growth are enveloped in a green soft and almost fuzzy like skin. Just like the unripe plums, these are eaten with a dash of salt.
The other day while talking to my mom about our abundance of gojeh sabz and how to make Gojeh Sabz Khoresht (recipe coming up next is posted!), she mentioned that one can also make a khoresht with unripe almonds. I seldom think about unripe almonds because I was probably the only kid who didn’t like them. Inevitably, for reasons that I can’t even explain, every time I see or think about unripe almonds there is always this traumatic, and in retrospect amusing, memory attached to it. Of course, the memory is traumatic because I witnessed and experienced it through the eyes of a child.
This event happened a good two and half decades ago when I was in elementary school in Iran. This was during the early eighties and just a few short years into the Iranian revolution when everyone’s lives turned upside down. By this time I was back in Iran after having lived in Italy for a few years. Going back to Iran was a tough adjustment given that not only I was accustomed to the westernize world, but also because until then my education had taken place in a French Catholic school. Those who have gone to French Catholic schools should be given an award for having survived the experience. Good God they were strict. You see, not only we had to study and get good grades, but they also took an active role in our manners. So much that when you sat at the lunch table you could never have your elbows on the table, your left wrist sat on the table next to your plate, and of course careful attention was paid to the way your held your utensils and how you ate. If for some reason your wrist was not in the correct position or your elbows landed on the table, the lovely nuns would stick a book under both of your armpits to make sure that you kept a correct posture. Now if the book fell…Or you got up from the table and didn’t clean the table…yeah…not a good thing.
Anyway, so this was what I lived with every day and I am sure I received a fine education. With this said, the nuns would be horrified to see that now I have accustomed to the American way and the table has not seen my left wrist, oh for a long time! My experience in Iran was a complete opposite of what went on with the lovely nuns. Heck no one cared how you ate. But what they cared about was that you prayed everyday and they took special care in brain washing you into believing their religious propaganda. Oh, and let’s not forget that they made sure that our uniform was not a centimeter shorter than it should have been, and that our scarves stayed on our heads without any hair picking out. ‘Cause you know, it is important to obey God’s will that women should cover themselves.
One fine spring day I had a very bad stomachache. So bad that I could not stand being in school and wanted to go home. In order to do so I had to go to the main office which was a long rectangular room where at the end sat our school’s principal. Once you entered the room, there were a few rows of desks on each side where the school administrators sat. Our principal was a nasty and huge woman who always wore a black chador.
So that day I made my way down the room toward her desk passing all the other crow looking women sitting at their desks and diligently working on their stuff. They all looked the same, with their black chadors. I remember trembling inside as I had to come face to face with the head crow. I finally approached her and explained that I had a bad stomachache and that I need to call home. So she, the evil huge crow, looked at me dubiously, perhaps wondering if I was lying. And then she said sarcastically:
“Did you eat too much choghaleh badoom?”
“No,” I said trembling. Paused for a moment and added, “I don’t like them.”
“YOU DON’T like chaghaleh badoom??? How is that possible, what child doesn’t like chaghaleh badoom?”
I trembled inside and had to exercise a good amount of self control in order to remain calm and not burst into tears in order to avoid making a fool out of myself. Now everyone was looking at me and I felt smaller and smaller, while the evil crow looked bigger and bigger. She then let me use the phone on her desk. Her fat fingers inserted a coin in the coil slot and I dialed my home number while my finger trembled as I dialed each number.
I may have been very young during that time period but I often wondered what I was doing there and God, the French nuns may have been strict, but this? This was ridiculous. My whole life, and that of others, was ridiculous. I just hated it all. I would have gladly gone back to the French nuns and their strict rules.
All these years later I have never had the desire to try chaghaleh badoom. But the other day after my conversation with my mom I was at our local Persian store. There they were, waiting to be bought and enjoyed. I thought to myself that maybe it was time to try them and see if my taste buds had changed all this time later. I bought a few and came home, washed them, took a deep breath, as this was an important moment of truth, I took a bit and……
Never again. The End.