For what would have been Freddie’s 70th birthday on 5th September, I decided to host an event in the Couchsurfing community. The idea of the event was to test my version of Persian vegan cuisine, for a new venture I am developing.
During the past few years, Freddie Mercury’s Persian ancestry had been increasingly receiving attention from fans and from the press, which sparked off my curiosity and led me to a number of fascinating discoveries. The Persian and Romanian identities are closely connected, which explains why I’ve always been interested in fairy tales and their often elusive messages. Very early on in my life, I connected Freddie with the peculiar existence of fairy stories. “Fairy” as a word is historically derived from Persian “peri” (meaning “spirit”), but before gaining historical knowledge I used to think that Freddie was a fairy because he could achieve magic; I then suggested in my literary essays that “magic” was explained in terms of “accessing a wider spectrum of existence” and teaching it by example. This fits a current study about the science of Freddie’s unique voice, noting that his ability stretched across a wide range. It also reminds of the Light Body effect described in ancient texts, which involves a wider spectrum centered around the everyday human frequency.
My event turned out a great success, with quite a varied group attending; lots of positive feedback on my creatively modified recipes; extended chats about international matters; and people refusing to leave even after 8 or 9 hours in! So forget “brunch,” because it became a lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, after-dinner and soirée all in one. I must extend a huge thank you to everyone for attending and for their magical words! I am beyond thrilled, humbled even, that everyone was so genuinely blown away by my cooking (even if travel storytelling turned to shaworma, sausages and Asian dog meat a few too many times for my liking. That remains to be worked on, in the sense that I wish people would understand such things are not “local culture attractions” but a lack of culture and vision).
Here are some of the dishes I prepared. I think Persian herbs and spices in the right combination might just be the universal answer to busting the expectation of “healthy is bland.”
Red bell-pepper hummus with za’atar*
Creamy potato salad with pickled cucumbers, cashew-cream & dill*
Roasted garlic spread*
Stuffed tomatoes with couscous & pine nuts, topped with leek sprouts
Mains (all served with saffron rice)
Autumn vegetable curry*
‘White Queen’/’Black Queen’ eggplant & grape salad with herbs*
Spicy potato casserole with dried fruit (prunes, dates, figs)*
Melon & tarragon ice shavings*
Faloodeh with barberry toppings* (work in progress! ha ha)
(*) marks gluten-free dishes
Personally, I relate less to “eating healthy” than I do to making a compassionate choice. The former naturally flows from the latter, and people are capable of extreme cruelty if they believe that their health is at stake. But regardless of my reasons, here I was faced with such an immediate effect on people. My Turkish guest said there was usually no power that could make him eat so many vegetables, yet here he was asking for more, and he promised to be among my first customers. How could I not feel humbled? I will continue to bring my cooking to as many people as possible, in the future.
(Note: this is not me in the foreground here, I understand these pics might trick readers that way. If you seek to put a face to the words, I appear more directly on other pages… not gonna reveal which!)