This Crazy Weather...

This crazy weather reminds me of the first time I visited Azerbaijan, were my family and ancestors are from. After 50 years and the fall of Soviet Union, Papa was able to go back to his hometown and visit his family regularly and one very cold winter, I went with him.

Azerbaijanis are known for their longevity. Secrets of food combining that have been known for centuries are just as applicable today as they were in the past. Curiously, the secret to long life according to Azerbaijanis seems to be in the way food is combined. Compensatory methods are used to counter the negative effects of fat. "Enjoy meat and dairy products," centenarians would tell us, "but combine them with the use of lemon, vinegar, garlic, fresh green herbs, yogurt, pomegranate juice and spices like sumakh(sumac) to dissolve fat that could be harmful to the human organism."

Azari's are serious carnivores and since I am a vegetarian Papa was worried what I would eat the 20 days we were there. He spoiled me every morning with a bowl full of pomegranate seeds. You honestly can not compare what we call pomegranate here to what I ate there every morning. The size of the seeds are twice as large and the little white pit in the middle is almost nonexistent so no bitterness at all. Oh, the bazaars there (see pic on the website), the dried fruits and nuts, the spices, the fresh herbs are unlike anything I have ever seen. Because 9 out of 11 climate zones are present in Azerbaijan, in the middle of winter with snow covering the landscape, one can still find Azari grown fresh herbs, veg, and fruit.

Anyway, as I am shivering while I am working on this weeks menu, I thought I would use some Azeri influences on this weeks menu and perhaps it will warm both you and us. So the rice with plums and apricots is something you get served every time, if you are a guest at an Azari home. There is always a platter of mixed herbs on the table that you pretty much munch on with every bite. Yogurt is served with every meal and you put it on the side of your plate and add to everything you eat. Beets in salads and soups are usually dressed with vinegar. Butternut squash and pumpkins are not associated with sweet dishes. Garbanzo beans are also very common, at least if you are a vegetarian.

We hope you will enjoy this weeks menu and if the temperatures for the next week don't warm us up, I hope some of the food you try will.

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